Disclaimer: I don't own Invader Zim. Or any kind of a laboratory.
Warning: This is grim and depressing stuff. See how soon you figure out what's going on.
The Professor's Lab
Dib and Gaz were hungry again, and still waiting for their father to come up from his lab downstairs. He was down there more and more of the time these days. Dib didn't like to go down the stairs to call his father because that was where the smells were. And a whole pile of electric wires too. Electric wires were scary. The adults on TV told you never to touch them. And his father never came up anyway no matter how many times Dib called him.
At last Dib decided his father wasn't going to get supper this time either so he went to the kitchen to get the box of cereal, also managing to find two clean bowls. He carried them out to the living room where Gaz sat staring into her video game... even though the batteries had been dead so long he couldn't even remember when it had last worked. Even on the rare occasion when Gaz did manage to pull her face away from the screen she seemed stupefied, as if some part of her brain was still watching it, or as if whatever she was looking at couldn't possibly be as real as the game. She seemed to blame Dib for whatever was making things happen the horrible way they did these days.
Dib poured the cereal for Gaz first, then himself. When he poured it for himself first she would get even crankier than usual, which was already enough.
Gaz snatched her bowl almost before Dib finished pouring. She didn't say thank you; indeed, she rarely said anything, and would go completely psycho when anything distracted from her screen for even a second. At least she was old enough not to crawl on the floor any more; it was gross and disgusting down there. Any food that fell on the floor came up tasting bitter.
And at least their father never made him clean anything up. Several half-finished bowls of cereal were still standing around on the coffee table, and if they smelled bad, at least they didn't smell as bad as the basement. Still, Dib wished that the house was somehow even half as clean as the kindergarten he went to... sometimes.
As Gaz grabbed a handful of cereal and began to crunch on it, Dib turned on the television and sat back to watch something... anything, for a few minutes until his father or Gaz needed something else. Dib could still remember when he too used to do whatever he felt like doing, but that was before his father started going downstairs and staying there.
Dib cuddled into his coat, a coat he wore everywhere because when he was warm he felt more safe. He also wore the same T-shirt every single day. His father never made him take it off to be washed, which was all right with Dib because this T-shirt was his favorite. The smiley face on it used to be yellow but by now it had faded to grey, but if Dib didn't mind why should anybody else?
Right now was one of the few times their father didn't have at least one of his visitors. Dib hoped this meant that everybody had gotten better and didn't need to come looking for his father's cold medicine any more. His father had more cold medicine downstairs than anybody could take even if they had the longest cold in the world.
All the visitors would all sit around the living room giving themselves needles. How they could do that, Dib couldn't imagine. He hated needles. And even though he'd seen plenty of other grownups simply take out a cigarette and smoke it, these visitors had to smoke their cigarettes in a glass pipe. Dib hated it when these visitors came to see his father. He always felt yucky inside whenever they did. They came from God knew where, and all looked nasty. The worst of all was when they wanted more medicine.
Suddenly a loud, shaky knock sounded at the door. With a sigh, Dib answered it. He knew that sound. Sure enough, it was someone with that wild look in his eyes, scratching steadily at himself. He asked for "the Professorwhere'stheProfessoristheProfessoraround..."
"He can't, he's downstairs." This never made the visitors go away, but Dib still hoped it would work this time.
The visitor smiled at that news, and horror writhed in Dib's gut. Lots of the people who came to the house had teeth that were nothing but little black stubs, and that made Dib terrified of catching a cold from them because that meant he would lose all his teeth. Dib wondered if it would hurt when he did. These, however, were by far the worst teeth he had ever seen. This visitor had only a few teeth, and those few were as sharp as a vampire's. Dib shuddered; this person could easily be the child-eating boogeyman he used to believe in.
Dib's father was finally up out of the basement and so pleased to see that he had a visitor that he couldn't get the visitor inside the house and
close the door fast enough. Dib wondered why his father was so happy to have a visitor when he couldn't even stop whatever he was doing long enough to have supper.
"Hey Tweaker my man!"
It seemed half the people who came to visit had that name. Dib wondered if any of them knew any of the others.
"You know what comes first."
Tweaker at first offered Dib's father a handful of watches, but Dib's father insisted on money. After a few moments of whining and pleading that he didn't have any money, Tweaker broke down and handed over a clump of dirty bills. Upon receiving a plastic sandwich bag with white powder in it, Tweaker instantly sat down on the floor and prepared to inject.
Dib didn't want to see this. He'd seen it happen many times, too many times. He headed back to the couch and sat down to watch television once more.
Finally Tweaker fell back onto the floor with a heavy sigh, a blissful look of rapture spreading across that horrible mouth.
Dib's father stood over him. "Tweaker, when you need more... Tweaker? Tweaker! Anyway, when you do you know where to find me... RIGHT?" The visitor nodded faintly, although whether this had anything to do with what the Professor had said was anybody's guess.
Dib knew that the only thing visitors to this house ever wanted was more cold medicine. He also knew that when people stood up again they were often very cranky, even hitting. His father got rid of them then by telling them their money was all gone and that they had to go get some more. Dib wished his father would think of saying that when they first arrived.
As his father headed to the stairs once more, Dib felt a pull on his shoulder. "Let's go."
"Wanna be a scientist and work in a real lab?" Before Dib could say anything, his father continued, "Then come on, just watch out for the nails and the switches."
"But I gotta - "
"She can get the door." Gaz was still staring into her video game like nobody else was even in the house. "C'mon."
After leading him through a gauntlet of booby traps downstairs to the lab, Dib's father handed him a bottle. "Hold it steady." He began pouring something into it that smelled absolutely horrible. "It's time you started helping out around here. And watch out. Sometimes the bottles explode."
Dib no longer needed to wonder if boogeymen existed. He knew that they did.
(A/N) Horrible, eh? I got the idea for this one shortly after stumbling over a page on crystal meth. "Oh my God, this fits, that fits... " I then began imagining how the situation would look to a child involved in it.