Boy Meets Alien Part II :  Prologue

Year 3 of the Horrible Smeets

            It was a nice day.  The sun was out, but there were large clouds in the sky that served to block it before it got too hot.  The birds were chirping, but somehow they weren't that annoying.  The foul smell of the landfill nearby was intermittently curtailed by a westerly breeze and sent towards some other part of town. 

            Zim sat on a park bench.  Around him, the smeets and Gir scampered, dashed and otherwise ran around like maniacs, yelling and screaming and poking each other with twigs.  Around the neck of each smeet was a thin collar that was keyed to an invisible force field that prevented them from straying more than fifty meters away from their 'mommy'. 

            Zim had reconfigured the safety collars after a few of his craftier offspring had somehow managed to remove them.  He would have to do so again soon, before they figured out how to take these ones off, too.  Hopefully, he'd have a bit of time after they ran off a bit of their manic energy and were forced to sleep (a nasty habit they'd inherited from their earthstink father, but for which Zim was secretly, pitifully grateful).

            Zim sat and contemplated a new safety collar design.

            A jogger, made bold by weariness and seeing only the bench and not the horrible cloud of manic youngsters surrounding it, sat down next to him.  He took a moment to catch his breath before looking over to look at his benchmate.

            "Zim?  Is that you?"

            Lost in design-ey contemplation and not a little weary himself, Zim for the first time took notice of the man beside him.

            Wouldn't you know it – it was Keef.  Not a man so much as still a boy, he looked young even for his age – which must be about seventeen by now.  He leaned over grinning intently at Zim, which was slightly unnerving. 

            Zim inched away on the bench a little bit, hoping Keef would go away if he ignored him.

            "It is you!  I knew it!  Wow!  It's so great to see you again, Zim!  Where've you been all this time?  Ms. Bitters said you moved away, but Dib said you dropped out of school.  Gosh, it just hasn't been the same without you!  How have you been?  I'm sure glad I met up with you today!  Would you like to go out for brain-freezies sometime?" 

            His lip pursed in annoyance, Zim pretended to be interested in a particularly yellow smog patch on the horizon.  One of the smeets climbed up on his lap and vomited off the side of the bench, apparently having eaten one too many spiny weeds.  Zim pulled a rag out of his pak and wiped its mouth. 

            "Alright, soldiers.  Recreation time ends in five minutes.  Prepare to return to base."

            The smeets took little notice of Zim, although many of them were beginning to become very fascinated with the red-headed stranger who'd wandered blithely into their midst.  A small crowd of smeets was gathering around him, standing immobile and staring.

            Keef reached over and patted the sick smeet's back.  "Wow, are you taking care of all these kids, Zim?  That's really nice of you.  Whose are they?"

            Zim swatted Keef's hand away. 

            "They're mine.  Don't touch."

            "WOWW!  You're a daddy, Zim?  That's SO cool!  I love kids!  I wish I was a daddy!  Who's the mommy?"

            Zim gritted his teeth.  "I'm the mommy, and as for the 'daddy', my mate has abandoned responsibility for our co-offspring."

            By now an eerie silence had descended over the park, all childish shrieking temporarily on hold as the smeets stood in silent contemplation of their visitor.  A few had begun to poke at his ears and eyeballs with sticks.

            "You're a mommy, Zim?  Wow!  I didn't even know you were a girl.  Too bad about the daddy.  Does that mean you're taking care of them all by yourself?  That's really brave of you.  You must be busy, and tired."

            "No!  I'm fresh as a zellip-bloom and I've got steaming piles of free time, but actually, I'm being sarcastic and I just thought you wouldn't understand because you're stupid, so go take your stupid self somewhere else to be stupid so that I can go and. . .keep on being busy."  Zim gathered the sick smeet in one arm and stood up.  He blew a tiny whistle that made no noise the human ear can sense.  The smeets yelped in pain.

            "Company, prepare for march!"  Zim blasted the whistle until the smeets had formed two orderly rows. 

            "Kip!  Natt!  Plunk!  Spoot!  Your turn for rides!"

            Four smeets shrieked with joy and hopped onto Zim's legs, two of them sitting on his feet, two of them clutching his thighs. 

            "Wow, you really are busy, huh, Zim?  Maybe I can help with your kids.  Then you wouldn't be so busy and I could spend some time with you."  Keef stood up.  "I could. . .walk you home.  And. . .help you put them down for a nap.  I bet they're all tuckered out from running around, aren't you kids?"  Keef smiled broadly at the smeets, who nodded vigorously and looked to Zim, eager to see where this would lead.

            Zim rubbed his chin, considering Keef's offer. 

            "Acceptable.  You can start by helping with rides."  Zim looked Keef up and down.  Although Keef couldn't compete with Dib – who'd recently become nearly as tall as his father, he was still a couple of heads taller than Zim.  Pleeeenty of limbspace.

            "The rest of you – Keef here is generously donating rides today.  HOP ON."

            A collective cheer rose up from the smeets, who piled onto Keef until only his eyes could be seen peering out from a mountain of squirming young irkens. 

            "Gosh, Zim.  They're a little bit heavy."

            "You get used to it."

            Zim pulled a small remote from his pak and punched a few buttons.  There was a short buzzing noise as the forcefield deactivated. He nodded and began his smeet-hampered walk towards the base.  Keef was able to laboriously make his way only a few steps behind him.

            "I think one of them's trying to eat me."

            "Yeah, they'll do that."

            And on they walked.  It was a nice day.