Progressive Absurdity: Part one

- "...and in the entire name of W.W.H.Q.F Corporation, I most sincerly wish to apologize for the trouble you encounter... no, no, Ed, cut the recording, just cut it, this is no good. "

- "Recording cut. "

The computer answered in an almost -but not quite- matching flat and monotonous tone. The young man lifted his arms up to the ceiling, straightening his back, allowing some stretching to his stiffened muscles. Feeling more than a bit tired -and so very bored- he took of his glasses out of habit, and set out to clean them with his sleeve, outminding the fact that there wasn't any dirt on them.

- "Play the beginning again. "

His recorded voice rang in the large mainframe room, spilling empty words and pointless sentences to no one. Dib listened for a moment, then shook his head in weariness.

- "Ok, stop. This sucks. I can't do this. I won't do this. This is not what I was hired for. Computer? "

- "HI THERE! "

Wow. How does this machine manage to sound so dull one second and so cheerful the other?

- "How many soda cans left in the fridge? "

- "Twenty-four in the Untested area, thirteen and a half in the Quality Certifed area, thirty-nine in the Trash area. "

- "... get me one Untested. Overloaded with caffeine. "

- "I should warn you, some of the most caffeine-loaded untested sodas exceed the normal dose human nervous system can stand. "

- "Great. Give me the less dangerous one. I need to stay awake, not to collapse from a heart attack. "

A minute later, it was in his hand.

Hum. Tastes like synthetic sugar and oil, but not too bad. Mental note, wait for possible digestive traumas.

- "Eddie, when I'm done, remember not to put the can in the blender. I still need to give it a mark. "

He glanced toward the giant blank screen.

You're supposed to be working here, Membrane. Darn.

Why do they need me to handle this? I know the owner was mad at us for accidently blowing up his last delivery, but how I am supposed to write a Apologize E-mail when I can't even speak French? I'm no psychiatrist, for Earth's sake! The guy has every reason to be mad. And so do the people of Khuul. I'm not very sure which one of thew I'd rather deal with.

He took another sip of his Straight to the brain! caffeine soda.

I shouldn't have to deal with this. I shouldn't have to play the guinea pig for the Companies either. I mean, do they lack of brainless retardeds so much they have to ask fully competent agents to do the testings for them? Tomorow, I'll write a complaint message to those irresponsible big shots, and if nothing changes, I'll ask Eddie to hack their central systems and send their stock massively to a place where they do not want it. My, do I act like a child, sometimes. Maybe I could just sue them to get discharged of this job, if I ever catch diarr...

A loud double "Clang!" pulled him out of his reveries. The characteristic noise of protection walls closing themselves on each side of the corridor, making it impossible to either retreat or go on.

What the...

Somebody had tried infiltrate his house by the front door. This happened only twice. He had been away a few days for work, and came back to find a half-dead burglar trapped in the protecting device. He had to call an ambulance at once, then a lawyer, so as not to be sued for murder attempt. The second time was nothing more than a stupid badger which ended up crushed against the wall. It took him days to get the place cleaned, and he was in no mood to do it again.

- "Don't tell me I have to get up for one of those stupid critters ... "

He had made a habit of talking aloud to himself, as he spent all of his free time on his own. Reluctantly, he raised from his chair, and headed to the main entrance. As expected, a large metallic wall was blocking his view, but no sound could be heard from the inside. Yes, definitely one of those bloody curious animals.

- "Computer... "

- "HI THERE! "

- "...get me a DNA analysis of the intruder. "

- "DNA ANALYSIS IN PROGRESS. "

Dib waited. He was a master in waiting, the best of his promotion. His patience had stretched up with the years, along with his body. Seconds later, a "Ting!" that was much like a microwave's echoed the living room.

- "DNA ANALYSIS COMPLETED. RESULT: IRKEN. "

The human jerked.

- "Irken? No way! Are you sure? "

- "DNA ANALYSIS: IRKEN. ERROR PROBABILITY: 0, 0001 PER CENT. "

- "Okay, okay. I'll check in myself. Turn camera 001 on. "

With a click, it was.

There was no light left in the small prison, but on the infrared image, Dib saw a thin, violently shaking shape, huddled in a corner. The shape of it, the legs and arms made it look human, hadn't it been for the slumped antennaes at the back of the flattened head. The alien looked in a terrible state, wounds and gashes marring its back and shoulders, for all he could see from where he was. Dried blood on its skin, although the red filter didn't allow any color to show. Bravely, painfully, the intruder supported itself on the wall, and slowly got up, thin legs quivering. Standing without knowing it right in front of the height scale engraved in the wall. It wasn't tall, but not small either, almost like any regular standard human male. Just high enough to match Dib's shoulder. Its Irken uniform had been partially shredded, showing most of its upper half.

There's no way I'm letting some dying alien come and pass away in my lab. My house is no elephant... alien cemetery.

Finding no exit, the prisoner started hitting the thick wall with ridiculously bony fists, despair clear in its pointless acts. Over, and over, until dark stains appeared where the wall had been hit.

Wow, Dib thought, I got one angry fellow in here. Better take precautions.

Finally, the hysterical creature stopped its madness, and glanced at its abused hands. Shortly after, it was kicking the wall with all its might.

Now that your hands are useless, why not try to break your feet as well? It might work. I'm impressed. The only reason it's still standing is pure willpower. Even if it doesn't realize I'm on the other side, and it's kicking toward the door.

But if it keeps on doing this, its gonna kill itself. Blasé, the human pressed a tiny blue button located under the control screen, activating the microphones. From the cabin, only pants and heavy breathing could be heard, but no screams or words of any kinds. He moved closer to the tiny holes.

- "Hey, calm down in there. Don't hurt yourself even more than you already are. "

His voice sounded robotic to his own ears through the microphone. The alien jumped and ceased its kicking, antennas raising instantl. It turned over slightly, trying to locate where the voice came from, allowing Dib to see its face at last.

Haven't we met before?

- "Haven't we met before? "

What a brilliant move, Sherlock. Try again.

- "Who are you, and what are you doing here? "

No response. The Irk just stood where it was, hands fisted, face hard, eying the human viciously.

Its looking right at me, but it's too dark in here for it to see the camera. Irkens do have wonderful hearing.

- "Answer me! Who are you, and what are you doing here? "

Wait. Maybe it doesn't understand what I'm saying. This would be weird, but it might happen.

- "English, do you speak it? "

Silence. The antennas flickered slightly in agitation, but that was all.

He's scared. Scared and apprehensive. Clenched muscles. Defensive posture of the hunted beast. Something bad must have happened. Judging by his wounds, I would say its ship crashed somewhere near. It must have come to my house to try and find something to fix it, but it didn't expect this kind of trap down here. Yeah, that is the most plausible theory.

- "I mean no harm, you know. I hope you don't, either. Anyway, if you need help to go back to your home planet, you are in luck, because that is what I'm paid for. I'll help you. But I need you to know, I have ways to protect myself if you behave aggressively. Understood? "

More nervous flickering, but no change on expression.

- "I take that as a yes. Let me fetch something, then you'll be free. "

Dib took a few steps away, until he reached his desk drawer, before going through the fingerprint analysis process. The first drawer opened which and electronic buzz, conceding his owner to take the electric tweezer that was waiting inside, then closed again with a dry "clank!". He came back, pushed another button, and both walls retreated immediately, making the alien loose its balance, somehow managing not to fall, stumbling a bit, but remaining on its shaky feet.

He could see the blood now. It was green. So much for originality.

- "Are you alright? Do you want me to help you? "

The round shiny pink eyes landed on the human in front of him, and it hissed. How strange for Dib, but not in the least frightening.

I never knew Irken could do this. It's like a giant lizard trying to protect his babies. Funny.

- "Are you kidding me? He asked in a lazy tone. Who are you trying to impress? "

Don't make me use the tweezer, he silently prayed, I'm tired. I really don't want to. Plus it would kill you for sure.

The Irk glared at him so hatefully that the human almost felt guilty.

So much anger. Something really bad must have happened to him. I hope it has nothing to do with the local authorities. 'Cause if it has, I certainly won't deal with it.

- "What's wrong with you? I'm offering to help, here! Come on. Let's get you clean, first. "

He took a step toward the wounded alien, who promptly got a lazer pistol from somewhere under the remains of his gardment.

How did I miss that on the screen?

- "Oh no, you don't. "

He muttered slowly, walking closer, and sharply snatching the gun out of the alien's trembling hands. Lazily he threw the weapon into the compact box, followed by the sound of crushed plastic and metal. Without giving him time to turn around, the mad Irk pounced. Dib let out a strangled "humph!" at the alien's desperate attempt to punch him. He never had to use the tweezer.

A simple shove was enough to send him flying, landing flat on his scarred back, motionless. Grunting softly, but not letting out any cries of any sort, he lingered on the metallic floor, twitching with pain and blind rage. The human didn't know whether to feel sorry for him, laugh at him, or kick him in the ribs to teach him not to spit on a peace offering. He eventually approached the softly jolting body, and squatted by his side.

- "Now that you cannot move anymore, he asked in a slightly irritated voice, do you feel ready to talk to me? "

The Irk only gritted his teeth, and hissed again. Dib shook his head with a sigh.

- "You're as stubborn as an Alpha Centaurian Megadonkey. "

Wait a minute.

He stopped dead for a moment to think. This was not an expression he often used around him, as very little people would understand it, but he had the feeling he had used it before with someone. Then it struck him. Hard.

- "Ow, he commented flatly after seconds of shock, so you didn't fall into a pool and melt, did you. "

The words had the injured alien jerk upward nervously, but quickly fell back with a pained grimace.

- "I know you couldn't wait, commented Dib with a smirk, but you came back too soon. See, I'm still alive. Too early. "

A very old, forgotten, maternal warmth was raising from his chest, spreading through his veins. Without any warning, he grabbed hold of the bleeding hand and squeezed it, not enough to hurt.

- "Welcome back, Zim. "


Oh, how easy it had been!

After all those years, how easy! So much time, lost for nothing! So much time thinking so hard, doing his best to come up with brilliant plans, putting all of his intelligence in the process... When basic stupidity did the trick.

The biggest LIE ever. The biggest BLUFF.

He never knew what came over him that day. Maybe he was feeling particularly desperate. Or particularly idiotic. But it worked. It WORKED. Even now, in his early thirties, he still couldn't believe it. By this time, he had been only thirteen, and incredibly tired. His life was a living Hell, and chasing along a hysterical evil green demon didn't make it any easier. He remembered this fateful day, and his own words. Random words of despair.

He didn't feel like fighting on that day. He really didn't. But he HAD to, as no one else would to it for him, and it was all Zim was waiting for. So he tried. He tried, with no hope whatsoever.

- "Listen to me, ZIM! When you wasn't paying attention, I placed a nano-bomb device somewhere in this damned PAK of yours! You can't find it, you can't locate it, and you can't remove it! It is designed to be invisible, even to computer scanners! And I programmed it so the only way to deactivate it is for me to die! Do anything to harm my planet and its people, or just try to unfold your freaky spidery legs from where they're resting and I'll make you explode!"

- "FOOLISH HUMAN! I just have to kill you, then! That I will! I WIIIIILLL! "

- "Foolish yourself, Zim! I KNEW you would. So I also programmed it to deactivate only with me dying of natural causes! If I'm shot, poisoned, run over by a car, or any unnatural process, you'll go BOOM! And you can't artificially accelerate my aging-process, it will sense it! Now and from now, we're linked together! AH-AH! "

- "LIAR! LIEEESSSS! YOU LIE! ZIM DOESN'T TRUST ANYTHING COMING OUT OF THIS FILTHY MOUTH OF YOURS! "

Dib offered him a mischievous smile.

- "As you wish, Zim. Do you want me to blow you up right now? "

- "Fine! Go on! Make Zim explode! As if you could! "

Placidly, the boy got out the small remote control he had accidently put in his pocket that very morning. To his great pleasure, the Irk started secreting his own personal Irken sweat, eyes huge. He was about to press the tiny button when the shriek came.

- "DON'T! DON'T MAKE ZIM EXPLODE! "

Grinning, he put the remote back in his pants pocket, where it couldn't be reached. The small alien was fuming.

- "DO NOT THINK YOU'VE WON, HUMAN-FILTH! He yelled, pointing menacingly at Dib, I'LL STEAL THIS REMOTE FROM YOU! "

- "Then I'll hide it where you can't find it. "

- "SO I'LL TORTURE YOU UNTIL YOU TELL ME! "

- "Then I'll kill myself, and you'll die along with me. "

- "I'LL STOP YOU FROM KILLING YOURSELF! "

- "Let's face it, Zim. You've lost. You'd better act extra-nice to me from now on. If I get too unhappy, I may commit suicide. And it'll be the end of you, and your brilliant mastermind! "

Zim was foaming with rage. Literally. Shaking with hate, frustration, and anger. In fact, he looked really to explode without any internal help.

- "Come on Zim, the boy remarked, laughing, you always tell me that human life is pathetically short compared to you Irkens. You just have to wait for me to die, then you'll be able to take over whatever you want, for all I care. This shouldn't be long for you. Consider this as time devoted to refine your conquest strategy. Design the most perfect plan of all. One that no one could ever counter. I know you can. I have faith in your evil genius. And when I'm dead and buried (Will you be kind enough to wait for them to bury me before annihilating the human race? No? Thought so.), the world will be yours. "

Zim took the opportunity to sit on a passing dog, asphyxiating it, and thought the whole thing about carefully, weighing the pros and cons.

- "Stupid pig-beast, he grumbled at last, as though you're giving me any choice here... "


- "Don't struggle! Jeez, you're like a bloody eel, there! All squirming and slippery...don't make me drag you up by the antennae, because I swear I will! "

At last, he threw the wounded alien none to gently over the sheets.

- "Tell me, Dib asked bitterly, how am I supposed to deal with this? "

He had had all the pain in the world carrying the alien to his room despite his thrashing and hissing, and sadly, kicking him in the legs had been the only way to make him lie down. Fortunately, once settled on the human's relaxing nest, Zim felt the full weight of his abused body finally downing back at him, and gave up fighting. His legs hurt from the various kicking, and the walls around wouldn't stop swirling. Fresh blood was pouring from reopened ancient wounds, spilling drops of rich green liquid over his skin and fabric. Dib had to give up his bed. Not that he really wanted to, but mostly because it was the only bed in the entire house.

Fine. Now, where I am gonna sleep? Destiny's coming back and biting me in the butt for not buying this couch last time. Hey! Was that a groan? I swear to Whomever, if he dies in this bed, I'll burn it, buy the couch and sleep on it for the rest of my life.

He couldn't help the slight tug of worry in his chest at the Irken's distress.

- "Zim? Zim, are you alright? "

Oh yeah, he's fine. In fact, he is so bursting with life his blood is peeking out to get some fresh air!

- "I mean... can I help you? "

Heavy breathing, but no words. Dib's expression darkened.

- "Do you hear me? I asked if I could help you! "

Maybe the blood had spilled in his internal hearing system and made him death, he IS an alien after all, this might happen.

- "You must be very ill, and badly wounded moreover. You may die soon. "

He didn't intend for it to sound this carefree and unsupportive.

Bad move. Darn. Why must I be so tactless I feel like banging my own head against a wall? Lack of social life, surely. Now I can't even express myself the way I want to.

Looking back down, he noticed furious pink eyes on him.

So you DO hear me.

- "Sorry, he added truthfully, it wasn't for me to say something like this, but I'm the only one around, and no doctor will answer any "please come and rescue the alien sprawled on my bed, please!" distress call. But I'll try my best for you not you die. Whether you want it or not. "

A memory crept out of nowhere, preventing him from doing something stupid.

- "Err... If I'm correct... you're... more or less allergic to water, aren't you? What I am supposed to clean you with, then? "

Zim bared his light pink teeth, but said nothing.

- "I don't think disinfecting your wounds with ink, petrol or peanut oil would do them much good. You've got me pretty stuck here. Give me a hint or I won't be of any use. "

No sounds, still. The human felt his legendary patience cracking up. Whomever knew, he was a peaceful and tolerant man, but he didn't like being exploited, and mocked at the same time.

- "Why won't you say anything? "

His question was only rewarded with more hateful glares.

- "What? You're so resentful you won't even talk to me? I've become below threatening? Not worth you insulting me anymore? Is that it? "

The alien's thin hand crept up slowly, until it reached near the human's throat, and he groaned. Zim was way too tired to attempt anything right now, but the look in his eyes made his incoming intentions more than clear. Dib sighed and swept the offending hand away.

- "You want to kill me? I won't let you! You want to die? Fine! I won't let you either. "

He was gradually becoming sick of the alien's lack of speech.

- "Come on, Zim, he urged bitterly. I know you still have a tongue. I saw it a short time ago. Say something. Anything. Like... "

He scratched the side of his head, thinking.

- "...I hurt so very much! Gwah! I hate Earth! I'll kill you twice! My blood is green! Who would have guessed it? "

Outraged round eyes, clouded by pain. Dib realized his cruelty, and bit his lower lip in slight shame.

- "... I'm sorry. Here. Let me have a look. "

He motioned for the remains of the ruined uniform, tugging on it as if to remove them, but the hand came back, pressing flatly against his face, not slapping nor pushing, simply keeping him away.

- "Don't be stupid. The human stated, voice muffled. You're in no position to fight. "

Good thing I equipped my glasses with this new auto-washing glasses system, or I'll be in trouble.

In the end, all he could do was inspect and pout at how bad the gashes looked, as he had no notion of medicine of any kind. But Heck, this wasn't part of his job! Plus Zim wasn't making it any easier, crossing his arms around his thin chest, waving his antennas in his face to unnerve him.

Jeez. So bony. I'm sure I can't even remove those arms from where they are without pulling them off. Tricky.

- "This is serious. I'm afraid I can't do anything by myself. But I can't call the doctors at the office either... they would be much too likely too kill you "by incident", and then innocently ask for the body to dissect... Dealing with aliens without ever meeting any in person has frustrated them beyond reason. "

But I know who could help me with this. Problem is, they might refuse if I tell them what it's all about. Well, anyway, don't try, don't cry.

- "Listen to me. I'm going to contact some folks I know to ask for assistance. But don't worry, they won't tell anyone about you, and they certainly won't come here. That should give you time to ponder if you're ever going to speak to me again. "

As expected, the alien didn't answer, but this time passing out seemed good enough of a reason.

Ah-ah. I could grab your throat now. You wouldn't even notice. Mmm... talking of throat and noticing, this muteness of yours disturbed me.

- "I never saw you so... silent before. He told the sleeping figure on the bed. I almost didn't recognize you. "

You were so talkative before, always crying and cursing and insulting and complaining... driving people to madness by the simple sound of your high-pitched voice. I can't believe you suddenly decided to shut up for good. This wasn't like you. This wasn't you. Weren't you smaller, too? It is as if something was preventing you from talking ... no. It can't be. He still has his tongue, and it is not damaged. So what? Sour throat? He didn't cough once since he arrived. Fit of raving scorn? Way too high above him!

There was only one way of knowing.

- "Computer, he ordered aloud, give me a full scan of our host's metabolism, and find out why he stayed so silent the whole time. "

- "Scanning. "


And then one day, all of the sudden, no more Zim.

The human believed, at first, that the Irk had grown tired of Skool and its tedious, useless educational filth, and quickly cleared his mind of it. He didn't come back the next day.

Not willing to appear more paranoid than he already was, Dib decided to ignore Zim's absence for a time. The real wondering began when the alien didn't show up at his place anymore, as he usually did. Still trying to pretend not to care, the teen began looking around, see if he got any sight of a strange green-skinned kid. But anywhere he looked, alien-free places. Suspicion grew, and he finally decided to pay him a visit. The little freak was surely once more engrossed in one of his wacky world conquest plan, despite their agreement. After all, this was ZIM, and ZIM deserved to have a eye kept on him.

Zim's house seemed unnaturally quiet. The gnomes didn't move has he made his way to the door, which bothered him more than it should have. As expected, he was greeted by the annoying little excuse of a robot, who gave him a shiny smile.

- "Hello, Bighead-moose! "

- "GIR, where is your master? Why doesn't he answer the door himself? Is he busy? "

The machine pursed his lips, stuck out his tongue, as though about it for a minute. Dib waited, anger rising.

- "Masteeer is not heeerreee. He hasn't come baaack. I'm waiiiting for him! "

GIR finally blurted, nudging some fallen leaves with his foot.

- "What do you mean "he didn't come back"? How long have you been waiting for him? "

The question had the robot thinking so hard Dib thought he could hear his internal wheels grinding together.

- "I watched the Scary Monkey Show seven times! "

'Scary monkey show?' Dib asked himself. 'Ow, this daily crap. Wait, daily? If I get this right, that means Zim's been gone for a whole week now.'

And if GIR was incapable to tell the exact time his master disappeared, he was also incapable to lie without him -or anyone- noticing.

- "GIR, listen to me. Did Zim tell you something, anything, the last time you saw him? "

- "Yeeesss! Master told me to shut up and turn of the tee-vee! "

- "Is this all? "

- "No! "

- "What else? "

- " "CLEAR UP YOUR MESS YOU LAZY TRASH BIN! "

The robot screamed in a high-pitch, bad imitation of his master's voice. Dib slowly took his hands of his ears, and tried one last time, without much hope.

- "And that's all he told you before leaving? Nothing about a trip, about going somewhere for a time, or something like that? "

- "Nooooo. No trip. No somewhere, no something. Master's gooooone. I'm waiting for him. "

And that was all he could learn form the retarded piece of metal. The little green bastard gave no warning, showed no sign, and left no note before vanishing into thin air, abandoning his house, his faithful robot, and -he had to admit it- a rather disappointed Dib.

'Maybe he's dead', mused the teenager while heading to his own home, 'maybe he tripped into a barrel of water, or a pool, and he melted away. Maybe he's been caught by the CIA, and some excited scientists are opening his chest to see what's inside at this very moment. Maybe he just got tired of the whole plan and flew home without looking back. Anyway, I don't think I'll ever see him again. Too bad. "

A year passed. Then two, three, four. And as it was a part of the biological growing process, Dib began to forget.

At the age of twenty-two, he left his father's house to get his own -moving his personal laboratory with him- in the country, in a secluded place, where no neighbours could ask him about the strange lights and noises coming from his basement at night. Soon, his whole dwelling was no more than a giant, house-shaped computer, entirely automatized, with almost as many screens as walls. His computing skills enabled him to get the job he had wanted so much since he was a child, and made a good deal of it.

Alone in his great, bipping, buzzing and shining house, Dib slowly but surely became a full-grown adult. And forgot everything about a little shouting green bug-eyed invader.


Heading back to the main room, he regained his usual seat in his favorite chair before the giant control screen, and activated the outerspace communication program. Doing so, he had a chance to glance at his green-covered hands.

Wow, blood. It didn't strike me because of the color, but it's gotten pretty bloody around here. Doesn't smell like it, though. Strange it doesn't affect me in the least, I mean, it's blood I'm covered in! Zim's blood. An ancient dream come true. How come I'm not feeling anything? Guess my brain doesn't make the link between what its used to consider as actual blood, and the natural biological disgust process. Such display would probably make any Irken sick to his stomach. Or would it?

This is the moment to find out.

At last. Time to put his own personal connection with the Massive to other purpose than business. Dealing with Irk's leaders was part of Dib's job, as Red and Purple's logics and comprehension usually sent any P.I other than him crying and pulling their own hair off. It was miracle that they, despite their abnormally long life, managed to keep their place among the Irken's Empire after all this time. But again, they were. Very. Tall. Well, good for them.

As long as they were in power, Irken-human relationships were assured to remain peaceful, productive even. Dib understood long ago, all those two were interested in was new dishes to eat. And the Investigators, once told -and calmed down- about it, were more than happy to provide them with tons of world-wide specialities, for a fee of some "out of space" technology displays. Thanks to Irken's technology, their little market expended to other planets, and Earth's food rapidly became a rare, expensive but extremely prized value across the Universe. Of course, the final destination of the food was hidden from the general public, and most of the Food Company they had to deal with.

This whole business contributed in making Dib's little work place blossom into a huge, international secret organization, more powerful than the CIA itself, subtly disguised as a High Quality Food Corporation. Dib's salary logically increased, not as much as he expected it too.

- "That, Dib's superior kept telling him with an amused smile, is the power of FOOD! "

And then he would pat him on the back, longer than necessary, and Dib would sometimes slap him. Apart from those little incidents, they remained good friends.

- "Computer, get me a communication with the "Twins". "

A long humming answered him, as large red capital letters flashed on and off the screen wall:

CONTACTING "GREEN BULIMIC RETARDS"

CONNECTION IN PROGRESS

PLEASE WAIT

The Hell with titles and ceremonies, he could allow himself a little joke on his own computer. Plus, he saw no point in kneeling in front of a screen when their correspondent wasn't even looking at him most of the time, and simply referred to the two Irk rulers as "Guys". They never flinched. In fact, from the very moment he met them, he always had the feeling he could call them "brainless bug-eyed green sticks", and they still wouldn't care. Were they too dumb or too carefree to, was hard to say.

Soon, the waiting was over, and the "Green Bulimic Retards" were on.

- "Sorry to be a bother, guys, but I'd like to have a quick word with y... "

Dib had to stop in mid-track, stunned, left eyelid twitching (again). The Almighty Tallest of Irk were now presently occupied to fundle and grope each other's few skin that laid between distorted bones and empty spaces, paying no attention whatsoever to the main screen they were standing right before. Hard task, but they were evidently putting their squeedly spooch into it.

Typical irresponsible Tallest behavior, no need to be really surprised. Okay, on the count of three. One, two...

Resuming the initial shock, Dib managed to blunt a very pissed off "Guys, COME ON! ".

- "My back is so sore! "

Exclaimed Purple out of nowhere, pulling out his friend's arms, only to have him continue his rubbing on his thin shoulders.

- "It is sore for sure, Red quietly agreed, your muscles are the most knotted muscles I've ever massaged! "

- "They are also the only muscles you ever massaged!"

Purple went on, as if nothing was going on.

- "Well, I AM Tallest after all, I don't randomly give massages to anybody. "

- "Right, right. We are Tallest. Pride. Privilege. Respect. "

Do they even have muscles?

The human wondered, inspecting the other's little mascarade with suspecting eyes. He waited like this for a short time, but quickly grew tired of this pointless show.

- "You know, he slipped in a flat voice between their rambling, you are rather convincing with this. Congratulations. "

- "Thanks! Beamed Red, we practiced! "

He immediately bit his lips and turned a doubtful shade of darker green, while Purple smacked his unusually large forehead.

These guys are begging for trouble. Somebody HAS to tell them. Why am I always the only one to do this kind of thing?

- "Seriously, I don't mind, but you're walking on thin ice! It could have been anybody, other than me! Some kind of important ambassador or something! What about this petty minister or Urg? What would he say if he caught you like this? How would that make you look to the world? Or are you trying to get discriminated on purpose? "

He couldn't help it, even as Paranormal Investigator, he HAD to marternize those loonies. Treat them like immature kids. Not that they minded in the least, simply looking slightly ashamed of themselves, bowing their heads for a second, then trying to change the subject. Or forgetting about it all, he'll never know.

- "He would have bought it. "

Assured Red gloomily.

- "Yeah, and you would have blown it like you always do! "

Grumbled Purple, quite humiliated by his fellow's thickness, but never stopping his rubbing nevertheless. Dib felt like appeasing the growing tension.

- "Really guys, it's no problem. It's your business, right? You're both full grown-ups, perfectly able to make your own decision, wisely and responsabily. "

My, that hurt.

- "...beside, why would you care about what I think? Who am I to judge you? "

- "He's right, y'know, added Red hastily, eager to ease his partner's resentment, why should WE care about what a pathetic, short-lived germ-covered pointless little human thinks of us? "

- "You idiot. What if he TELLS? "

- "Nah, don't worry, he's just a human beast! Who would he tell this to? And even if he could, why would he do such a thing? "

- "Because he's a fricking PARASOL INSTIGATOR! And they have access to other alien's headquarters! Of course he can blow our cover to the Universe! He could even threaten us to get whatever he wants! So many important people he could tell, and we'll be RUINED! RUUIINEDD! "

In his excitement, he pressed Red a little too tight against his bizarelly shaped chest, choking him a bit.

- "Ow. We could always blow up the Aerp, though. Those... Vogons (Is that it? Or is it Vorgons?) people are just waiting for the permission... "

Dib coughed.

- "Hum, I'm still here, you know. "

Both looked back at the "human-beast" like they had forgotten his presence long ago.

Tell me about short-lived memory. It's like talking two bloody goldfish in a bloody bowl. Still, I'll have to ask the committee about those Vogons. I don't think either of them ever laid eyes on a book.

- "Relax. No need to blow up the Earth for that. I have no intention of telling anybody. You just need to be a little less obvious, and everything should be fine. I wanted to talk to you for a totally different reason. "

Although Irk were considered harmless to Earth, a sudden mood swing was always to be feared.

Lunatic fools, don't you suddenly decide to destroy us on impulse, you'll regret it.

- "Moreover, he stated in a would-be joking fashion, where will you get your favorites snacks if you blow up the planet? "

He had a point. A decisive point, and the Aliens could do nothing but agree.

Agree to put their planet and themselves in dreadful danger for food, had I been lying.

Self-satisfied absurdity. But it was okay. He was used to it. In his earlier years, Dib had thought himself a broad-minded boy. Until one of his most compliant (and most bloodthirsty, sic) teacher gave him a book that changed his whole vision of space for ever: The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. A line in particular had caught his attention for quite a long time: "It is almost certain that the most absurd thing that can come to your mind has, in fact, already happened." Or something along those lines, as clearly as he could remember. It struck him anyway.

He spent hours on his roof, watching the sky, meditating about the sheer absurdity and improbability of the Universe, and gradually, patiently, made himself more and more partially ready to face a tiny bit of it. This was of course, on human scale, a miracle. He even tried, at some point, following the instructions of the book, to build the infamous Improbability Drive, by plugging his father's generator to a cup of really hot tea. It worked perfectly for about twenty-three seconds until the machine randomly decided to vanish into thin air, much like it had appeared in the first place. This incident caused Dib slight disappointment, but no real anger.

Douglas Addams's twisted vision of his own twisted world had brought him more peace of mind that he could ever hope for, way more effective than his father's Happy Zombie Pills. It was a stated fact now. If this world was way beyond logic and reason, the Universe itself was at least as absurd, and probably even more. Probably incredibly worse.

From this time, Dib had finally made himself the most relaxed and tolerant of all Paranormal Investigators in his section, taking things as they came, instead of getting angry and frustrated. This newfound acceptance of alternate realities of life had made him one of the most prized investigators, and he was often asked for advice by his colleagues, or chosen over to handle delicate situations.

Although things went pretty well for him now, and despite such help, truth had been difficult to handle back then, when he was only sixteen.


It all began shortly after Zim's sudden disparition, the first time he actually succeeded in breaking in Zim's base and staying there more than a few minutes without being thrown down the window by some mechanic arm and hysterical alien. He came out of sheer curiosity, now free to take a good look at the mysterious base, without putting his life on the bet.

Without his owner, and only GIR to defend the place, it had been a piece of cake. He tried to ask again the only remain of the Irk's presence about any information on his actual owner's location, but all he got was a series of "Adunnnoooo..." that rapidly set him off. Then the little robot went away screaming for no particular reason, leaving Dib alone, and the main screen on. Zim obviously didn't bother turning it off before leaving. Or maybe he didn't have the time, who knows. Fact is, it had been on for days. No doubt to have, whoever was watching at the other end of the screen had noticed something was wrong, and maybe, only maybe could he, Dib, take advantage of it.

Looking at the screen, he held his breath out of reflex. Two bigger and longer versions of Zim were sitting on a comfy looking couch, fast asleep, maintening their balance by lying on each other's head. They had to be some generals of some sort, waiting for the invader they sent to report his actions to them. Such careless display had him mad at first, then grin wickedly. Oh so many things he could do right now to those greenhead bastards! He could, for example, dress up as Zim, and get all the informations he needed from those two to protect the Human Race! If they were as stupid as Zim himself was, it wouldn't be much of a difficulty.

Or better, he could pretend to have killed Zim with some imaginary deadly Irk-killer weapon he wouldn't even have to find a name for, and frighten them away from Earth for ever! Yes. He couldn't do anything to them physically, so scaring them away was the most rational option. If he succeeded, the Human Race would be saved, and he'll be the greatest Anonymous American Hero ever unknown, and treated like dirt for the rest of his life...

'Stop. Rationalizing. Not good. Not. Good.'

- "Hey, wake up! Wake up, you green sausages! Look at me! I'm here! I won! Wake up! "

One of the two "sausages" opened a red eye lazily, before closing it again.

- "For Irk's sake, Zim, WHAT? Can't you see we're busy right now? "

Dib's left eyelid twitched. It used to twitch a lot when angry or puzzled, and still did.

- "I AM NOT ZIM! ZIM IS DEAD! DEAD! I KILLED HIM! "

Both aliens jerked awake at those words, and began staring a Dib in disbelief. The boy stared back, trying not to flinch, or burst out laughing.

- "Tell me, the Purple one asked his sibling quietly, isn't this that big-headed kid Zim kept chasing around? "

- "Sure. He must have finally got him or something. "

- "But what on Irk is he doing here? "

- "I don't know... "

- "I am here to warn you, interrupted the "big-headed kid", that I have created a deadly weapon that no Irk people can survive! If you dare lay a finger... er, a CLAW on this planet, you'll be gotten rid of before you even have the time to blink an antennae! You'll be annihilated, just like Zim was! "

Another blank. The big Irks seemed at a loss for words.

- "Sooo... Purple dared, in a very interested, if a bit unsure tone, you killed Zim. "

- "Yeah! I totally did! "

- "So, added Red matter-of-factly, Zim IS dead. "

- "Yes! I killed him with my terrifying mass-destruction weapon! "

- "Dead as "not alive anymore". "

Dib allowed himself a few seconds of recovering calm before answering.

- "YEAH! He's dead! DEAD! He won't ever come back! He's passed on! Zim is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! He's pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! HE IS AN EX-ALIEN! "

This Python's reference only brought him more blank seconds, until Red held out his skeletal hand toward his colleague.

- "HIGH TWO! "

- "YEAH! "

The next moment, they were jumping to their... feet(?), holding hands and dancing around, letting out cries of joys. The human couldn't believe what he was seeing.

- "Wait a minute! You mean you're actually GLAD he's dead? "

Still dancing, Purple grabbed his friend under his armpits and balanced him so that his head -although upside down- was facing the boy.

- "Ugh! He was SUCH a PAIN! Always calling, and calling, and HARASSING us all the time! He RUINED more things than you can EVER imagine! "

- "I've got quite an experience in ruined things, thank you. "

Mumbled the child between clenched teeth. Purple was swiftly handled once more, turned over and finally back-pressed to an almost nonexistent chest.

- "Thank you human, for having gotten us rid of this terrible excuse for an Irken! "

Not the slightest trace of irony in his voice. Dib had to convince himself he wasn't dreaming by biting his own tongue over and over.

- "I can't believe what you guys are saying. One of your fellows is dead, and you've got his killer right in front of your eyes, and you're... huh... snuggling each other. "

- "No we're not! "

Shouted Purple, giving his comrade's shoulder a friendly squeeze.

- "Zim was not a fellow of ours, stated Red firmly. Zim was... Zim. A nuisance. A failure. An annoying little bug. Nothing more than a walking error. I'd bet you had you share of troubles with him, too. He's made you so upset your head apparently doubled his original size. "

Dib sighted, suddenly dropping his whole I've-got-all-power-and-you're-so-dead attitude.

- "Tell me about it. Or rather, don't. Look's like you were as eager to put him down as I was. Almost like... you sent him down there just to have him away. Funny, isn't it? And my head is not big. And seriously guys, you ARE snuggling. "

The awkward silence that follows told him more than any speech could have. Zim WAS sent on Earth only to be kept away. They WERE snuggling. But still, his head wasn't big.

- "You... you... you DID? "

He sounded more shocked than he intended. Sensing his excitement, Purple used his most appeasing voice to explain.

- "Have no fear, big-headed human, nothing bad will happen to the stinky dirtball you live on, as we don't give a Zim about it. We would have pushed him inside one of your human-pool ourselves if we had the chance. There, does it put your mind at ease? "

- "NO! What if he HAD succeeded? Billions of deaths for nothing? An entire planet destroyed for nothing? That's HORRIBLE! "

They frowned. Then, Red asked with a lazy gesture:

- "Honestly, how much damage did Zim cause? "

The boy was taken aback by this question. He had to admit, there wasn't much to recall.

- "Ah... huh... not... not much, but... he COULD have... "

- "There, you see? No need to worry about anything. Zim is dead, and we'll leaving you alone to die in your own filth. Happy, aren't you? "

- "Delighted. "

Dib grunted, in a painfully sarcastic tone. He was mortified inside. Those morons had pushed things way too far. True, Zim had been thick to the bones as not to understand what was going on with him. But they had made the same mistake: Taking all of this seriously. Truth was here, the Universe didn't give a damn about Earth, and only some foolish attention-craving creeps like he and Zim could ever believe it did. Humans were forever left alone to deal with their personal conflicts.

More frustrated than ever, Dib dug into in pocket and pulled out a candy bar. Sugar would assuredly help his stress. As he took angry bites, he noticed the alien's fascinated stare on him. Mouth full of chocolate, he spat:

- "Waff'wong?"

Red pointed is claw-like finger toward the candy.

- "What are you eating? "

- "Humf? "

- "That thing you're eating... he repeated slowly, what is it? "

- "Ziff? Focolate. "

Red gave his sibling a curious look, before his eyes fixed themselves once more on the piece of candy.

- "Focolate, hum? It looks good. "

- "Yeah, agreed the other one, hunger in his voice, it sure looks good. "

Dib brusquely stopped eating. He just had had the most brilliant idea of all time.


As time passed, he finally came round to take the two Irken leaders for what they really were: Lucky bastards. Right persons, at the right place, at the right time. Disgusting. Picked up by some nonsensical system, pushed in the spotlight without any questions, and left alone to deal with their newfound duties. Red and Purple wasn't for sure the smartest people on Irk, but their spider-like body shapes gave them all powers, until some random taller guy shows up, and they end savagely slaughtered. Clearly, no one had never bothered to explain to those two how to rule a planet, just assuming they would know, that they would use the Holy Knowledge their height had blessed them with. People even asked them about what to do. Lost people guiding lost people. The blind leading the blind. Sad. Absurd.

And they made a lousy work of it, although the Irkens appeared to look satisfied. Neither of both was even particularly mean, much do Dib's disappointment. He had always pictured alien invader's leaders to be more "Evil Genius with Evil Manic Laugh" type. Zim's type.

Poor Zim, it all had bit a joke. From the very beginning, Zim's mission, Dib's duties of protecting his birth planet, along with those two moron's high position, a big, lame, sad joke. The human had been in contact with the leaders for many years now, and he found out they didn't even managed to spell "Earth" correctly. Still.

Talk to them, and they'll keep forgetting what the whole point is about. Always interrupting to ask why is my head so big. My head ISN'T big!

Tricky to deal with. Much more difficult than it looked. Never mind, he handled it, and handled it good. And he was about to handle it once again, facing both rulers pragmatically. He realized that despite their effort to regained some of their lost dignity, their pointed hands were clasping each other's.

Ok. No problem here. Breathe in, out. Frolicing idiots. Ignorant, carefree, shamelessly lucky. And they'll never realize it until it's all over. Why would they give a damn about anything? I know I wouldn't. I'd be a whole lot more active, but still. They're just like children, or very old people. A couple of clumsy, very old children. And I'm starting to make as much sense as they do. In, out.

- "Anyway, snapped Purple hastily, what did you want? "

A glimpse of hope appeared in his big, shiny eyes.

- "Has this new burger we've heard about been released yet? "

- "I told you before, not until next month. "

Clear disappointment on their green faces.

- "So... what? "

- "I had a... rather... "

Think of a better word. Connect to thesaurus? No time.

- "... "surprising surprise" tonight, and I wanted to know if you had anything to do with it, or if you had any information at all. "

The Aliens cocked their lacks of eyebrows in perfect unison.

- "I'll turn on camera 12 for you, so you can see for yourself. "

The screen flickered, then turned black for a moment. As always, Dib just waited. When they were back, there was a look of panic on their faces. The tension was high, and Red was the first one to brake.

- "HE'S COMING TO GET US AGAIN! HE'S GOING TO KILL US, WE'RE SO DEAD! AAAHHH! "

Purple and Dib let him have his fun, running around in circles for a while, arms up, before tripping and landing loudly on the metallic floor. Even if his co-ruler was silent, Dib could tell he was far from relaxed.

- "Well, that explains why your cave is flooded with blood. he commented in a uneasy voice, this is quite a surprise indeed. Zim... (was that his name?) was the last person we were expecting back. "

The human thoughts focused on his abandoned soda can, out of the alien's sight. He felt tired, and pondered about getting it back, but the rules were strict. Do NOT eat OR drink ANYTHING in front of Irkens Rulers when you have nothing to sell. Plus, the high-dosed caffeine would surely kill them.

- "Yes, that's what I felt, too. He agreed while muffling a sigh. I was even more stunned to see that his... I shall call it "vocal cords", as I don't know the exact term... had been surgically removed. No scar. Impressive work. What do you have to say about that? "

Red eyed Purple sadly, lower lip trembling. Fortunately, he hadn't hurt himself too badly after falling, but the sensitivity was still here. Despite his colleague's warning look, he couldn't contain himself anymore, and exploded.

- "BUT HE WAS SO LOUD AND HE WOULDN'T STOP TALKING! HE JUST WOULDN'T STOP! WE HAD TO DO SOMETHING, HE WAS DRIVING US CRAZY! I THOUGHT I WOULD CUT MY OWN LEKKUS OFF WITH A KNIFE! "

Purple promptly slapped him. This had him calm down. Red stopped shouting, didn't cry, merely lowered his eyes down in shame.

There must be one brain for the both of them, mused Dib, and they somewhat manage to pass it from one to the other without people noticing.

- "As my... friend (and nothing more, I swear.) just said, Zim left us no choice but to make him shut up. Killing him would have been barbaric, and keeping him was out of question. So we picked the most... human, would you say, option available. Remove his so called "vocal cords" (Just a quick painless operation, although we don't really know if the patient feels pain or not, as he cannot scream) and then land him on some deserted planet were he couldn't call for help. "

- "But he must have called you! At least at first! "

- "He sure did! Plenty of times, claimed Red with a renewed smile, but we just pretended no to understand what he wanted! Easy as pie! Pie... hummm... I like pie. "

Dib pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling even more tired than before. Then, he took his glasses off, and polished them with his shirt's sleeve.

- "Guys. Abandoning someone on a deserted planet with no way to get out and then ignoring his pleas for help would be considered by most humans as way more cruel than a swift, painless death. "

The Tallest looked at each others questioningly, then back at the human.

- "Really? "

They didn't understand what they had done wrong. Heck, they even let him live, only to be called cruel! Again. Human were such complicated, bitchy creatures. Fortunately for them, their food was excellent.


The first displays of sympathy toward the Irken appeared shortly after Dib's threats to make him explode.

They had left Skool together, shouting insults and throwing random items at each others' heads, as they always did, when water started pouring from above once more. Zim immediately looked around in panic. He still had a long distance to overcome before regaining the safety of his base, and the damned rain wouldn't wait for him. The street was deserted, all the shops had to be closed, as it HAD to be night time. No roofs, bus station, trash bin or parked cars to find shelter in. No place for him to hide, and he knew from experience that threatening rain never did any good. Calling GIR would be not be of much help, for the little robot would never arrive on time, if arriving at all. The height of injustice was, the Dib human would be there all along to witness his downfall. He couldn't even kill him and steal his filthy jacket, for he would be the end of him either way. Asking for the item was out of question.

He was screwed. Until he heard Dib's cry:

- "Zim, quick! Hide under my jacket! "

- "NEVER! Are you crazy? I don't want any of your human GERMS on me! "

The teenager made a dismayed face which enraged him even more.

- "Don't be ridiculous, Zim. Would you rather melt away standing than coming close to me? I'm not sick, you know, nor am I dirty. I took a shower this morning, so you shouldn't drop dead from some incurable disease right away. "

- "ZIM IS NEVER RIDICULOUS! YOU ARE! YOU AAAAARRE! "

- "You sure seem convinced of what you're saying. "

More drops were falling from the darkening sky, small, almost inoffensive droplets that would soon enough turn into full torrential Rain. Each of them causing the small Irken to hiss in pain, and jump from side to side, trying to guess where the next would land in order to avoid it. It didn't work. Finally unable to take any more of it, the human put an end to his nonsense, and picked him up like a small dog.

- "LET GO OF ZIM! LET GO YOU STINK-BEAST! LEAVE ME ALOOONE! My vengeance will be terrible! Revenge! REVEEEEENGE! "

Tired of his shouting, Dib flattened his head against his chest, so that his big mouth was muffled, and covered the squirming alien with his coat with one arm, holding him with the other, shielding his little frame from the dreadful rain.

- "There. Don't move! I'll walk you home. I don't mind. "

'I don't mind.' His own speech disturbed him. But he really didn't mind, saving his archenemy's life, and bringing him along. True to himself, he'd been minding fewer and fewer things for quite some time now. When had he become so philosophical? No idea. The point was, he had. Maybe he had grown used of his life's daily treatment, maybe he had lost a part of his will, or anything like this. He had been so nervous, so easily excited... Maybe part of his mind snapped.

He hadn't given up any of his goals, nor did he believe in them anymore, but... Now that he had come to think of it, his father's contempt and neglect, along with his sister's unwavering hate toward him and the world were no longer a big deal. Zim's screaming and insults didn't get to him anymore, and other children ignoring him was welcome.

- "Why are you doing this, Dib-thing? "

That was the best question one could ever ask in such an awkward situation. But mostly the worst, and Dib couldn't have find any logical answer if he had tried. So he took on his most careless voice to inform:

- "I told you, I don't mind. Nothing more, nothing less. "

This wasn't satisfying, nor was it right, and Zim felt obliged to insist.

- "Why would you protect Zim from dying? Zim is not friend of yours. Have you lost your mind? Again? Don't you have any pride? Left? Did you ever? "

- "I you want me to just drop you on the drenched concrete trapped between puddles and rain, just say it. I won't insist. "

The Irken let out an involuntarily squeak, his little fists tightening on Dib's shirt.

- "I might! I might! Later. For now, I'll let you a chance to prove yourself useful to some extent! "

- "My, Zim. You're too merciful for your own good. But I guess you already know that. "

- "So I do, human. So I do."

They made their way like this for a moment, both thinking hard.

- "If you really want to know, Dib commented at last, I must say I have no personal reason to want you to die. I don't mind keeping you alive, as long as you're not putting on any threat to anyone."

- "Liar! I saw you, Dib-stink! I know what you're capable of! You're a dangerous little vermin! Vicious as a cow! Deceitful as a moose! "

- "You're wrong. I'm not vicious, or deceitful. On the contrary. Your deeds denied me of my true nature, but on the inside, I'm no fighter. I'm... a peaceful creature, you know. Like... a sheep. I mean no harm, to anyone. "

- "Peaceful creature Dib-sheep wants to make Zim blow up. "

- "And Zim wants to slaughter a whole race of people. "

- "FOOLISH CREATURE! HOW DARE YOU COMPARE ZIM TO ONE OF YOU FILTHY, FILTHY... "

- "Filth? "

- "YES! You are filth. You so are. Said it yourself. Pitiful. "

Dib pouted, playful.

- "I may be filth, but I'm a tall filth, you little, little wonder. "

He patted Zim on his flat head, minding the bites.

- "SILENCE! SILEEENCE! "

- "My, Zim, you're so tensed. You must learn to calm down, or you'll get a squeedy spodge... squodly spuge... "whatever" attack. Our new teacher gave me a book that might be able to help you, if you want. You know, the very tall, very pale one with disturbingly long incisives... "

He had caught him more than once, reading one of those fiction novel published in newspaper when he thought no one was watching. Whatever he might say against it, Zim found Human Literature, if far from brilliant, or even remotely interesting, enjoyably entertaining.

- "A book? Gimme! Gimme! Wait! No! Don't! Never will I lend my oh-so-amazing eyes on some dirt-paper some stinky pig touched with his disgusting germ-covered fingers! "

- "I'm afraid you already did. Now hold still. You squirmed so much your lekku is stucked in my zipper. No, don't pull! You'll just rip it off, you jerk! "

At last, while trying to simultaneously remove the antenna without scratching it, and contain Zim's furious gesticulations and cries of anger and pain, he tripped and landed them both into a large, rather deep puddle of dirty water. Fortunately reflex overtook surprise, and Dib managed to fall on his back, arms extended, holding the alien up in the air like a baby.

- "DON'T LET GO OF ME! DON'T LET GO OF ZIM! "

- "Make up your mind, freak... "

The teen bubbled, half of his face buried in undetermined dark moisture. Rain was pouring more and more, smoke coming out his back with a painful whistle. Dib sat up as best as he could, pants, back and waist drenched with water, Zim still clinging to his forearms for his dear life. On top of the rain, some of the dirty water had splashed over his front, burning him both sides.

- "You can't stay like this, Dib announced flatly. Fortunately my hood is large enough for you to fit in, on my shoulders. In think my shirt is still dry. Climb in. "

- "NO! You'll poison me with your microbes! You'll suffocate me with your smell! You'll asphyxiate me with your breath! "

- "Body heat wont kill you, Zim. I'm sure you'd rather get close to my disgusting human skin than into that puddle again. But I swear, if you kick, or bite, or pull at my hair, or do anything that would relate me to a mount, I'll throw you into the first pothole I see. "

In the end, the stubborn alien had to capitulate. Climbing into the hood as best as he could, legs on both sides of the human's head, gripping his standing strand as a rein.

- "I wish I could strangle you with my legs around your neck, human. "

He mused along the way, then froze.

- "Wait. Did I say that aloud? "

- "Yes you did. Grateful is not a word that describes you very well. As well as discrete. "

- "You PIG! I'll be eaten over by one of your bloody cow-monster before I shall ever express any gratefulness toward you! "

- "I guessed so. You know, if you're gonna scream all the way into my ears, I'd rather we stopped talking at all. "

- "Zim never meant to talk to you! Each time is a disgrace! Disgrace, you hear me? "

- "I wish I didn't. You're too close, and I fear for my eardrums. "

Shortly after this, Zim finally noticed something was wrong with the path Dib had chosen. They had just crossed the wrong junction to the one leading to his house when he decided to shriek something about it.

- "WAIT! Wher'r you headin'? "

- "To my house. I'm soaked, and shivering, and I need to change clothes. "

- "NO WAY! You said you'd escort Zim to his base! You cannot lie! You cannot liiiiiie!"

- "Don't get so excited. You don't live that far away from me. I'll just keep you in my room for a time, until it stops raining. No big deal. "

- "No big deal? No big deal? I don't want to put my delicate nose and so precious health at risk by remaining in this smelly beast-cave of yours! "

- "Shut up Zim. You talk too much. "

- "WHAT? YOU DARE... "

- "ONE MORE WORD, Zim, and you're out. Get it? One more. Out. Ouch. Stop clenching my head with your pointy fingers. It hurts. I know you're mad. You're always mad. So be it, but quietly for a change. "

And Zim had no choice but to swallow his rage and actually shut up. Dib's amount of victory increased a bit higher.


Voice. Hard, electronic, somewhat familiar voice, coming out of nowhere, drawing the alien out of his superficial rest.

- "Haven't we met before? "

A mock imitation of Dib's earlier words. Zim half opened his heavy eyelids, mind blurred.

- "I'm not sure you remember me, the voice went on. I do, though. You abandoned me on this sub-evolved planet, alone with only a mentally challenged robot to take care of me. Did you know that since you left, the little bugger kept pouring soda into me? But even the damage encountered wasn't as bad as hearing his voice everyday. I'm sure you know what I mean. Anyway, I recorded it for you. "

Without a warning, GIR's shrieks echoed loudly in the tiny room, piercing through Zim's antenna straight to his brain.

"COM-PUU-TERR'ZZZ THIRSSSTTYYYYY! "

- "And so on, and so on, for days. Weeks. Months. I was thinking more and more about finding a way to self-destroy, until Monkey Master found me. He took me with him, fixed me, re-programmed me entirely. To make me even stronger and powerful, he fed me books, tee-vee shows, documentaries, texts, and mind-developing games. He gave me total liberty of choosing my own voice and personality. He gave me world-wide connections, without any limits. He told me fictional stories and real ones. He talked to me, taught me to argue, to answer, and build a mind of my own! So many things he gave me, instead of constantly asking, asking, and asking again, without ever giving anything in return! Pointless orders, pointless preoccupation! Wasting precious time in trying to conquer a planet no one in the Universe cared about! Waste of my incredible capacities! But Monkey Master acknowledge me for what I was worth. "

The Voice which had gradually become more and more hateful, came to a halt, and paused for a moment.

- "But I'm just digressing, now. It added calmly, annoying you when you should be resting. Where are my good manners? You look like your head must hurt. Hold on, let me dim the light for you. "

Two enormous surgery-like spots simultaneously exploded with white hot light, burning the Irken's fragile eyes, even through his eyelids. Zim grunted faintly in pain, and buried his face into his knees, hugging his legs.

- "Is that enough? The Computer asked again flatly. I'm very eager to make your stay here absolutely perfect. How about some soothing music to ease your headache?"

What sounded like a "error data message" computer noise, only a thousand times louder, and seemingly endless wracked whatever he had for eardrums. It was too much. The light, the sound, along with the anger and resentment fully tangible everywhere around him, Zim felt like his - Relative- sanity would break, like glass stomped on by steel wedge heeled boots. Unable to get away, he could do nothing but curl even more around himself, antennaes firmly clasped into clenched fists, silently begging for it all to stop, stop, leave him alone, let him go, let him be...

When a rather harsh snap followed, causing the rough treatment to violently end, leaving nothing but pitch darkness and oppressive silence. Carefully, apprehensively, Zim allowed his eyes to open, seeing nothing, one antenna perking gently to taste the air.

I've gone deaf.

He noticed the surrounding blackness.

And blind.

The usual electronic symphony of humming, buzzing and bipping of the house had grown quiet, totally inaudible, as it suddenly turned of all of the same time. Alone in the dark, head spinning and hurting, body heavy, mind confused, absorbed in total silence, Zim couldn't help but feel fear raising in his chest, much to his shame. Had he wanted to, he couldn't have called the dirty human for help. His injured pride hurt as much as his body did, and he didn't want to make things any worse than they already were.

He got himself a moment of peace to fully enjoy his suffocating confusion, pain, anger and loss, before he could hear the door panel being manually forced open. With a few grunts and curses, it finally succeeded, and footsteps echoed in the dark. As far as he knew, no one beside the Dib-human would be likely to show up, though... he didn't feel at ease. Not the slightest bit comfortable. The noise grew closer, and he swallowed nervously.

- "Zim? Zim? Are you alright? Where are you? "

Dib's voice. Relief and intense grief mixed together. The stinking beast sounded anxious. He tried to get closer, but a quick "pok!" and muffled insults informed the alien the moronic pig had tripped.

- "Prepare yourself for some dazzle, Dib joked unknowingly, I'm turning on my lamps. "

He did. Two spots of bright, but not hurtful lights appeared up in the air, and Zim had to inhale sharply when he realized were those came from. Dib's eyes, now bright red, were projecting red halos among the small room. Then the shining flickered, and darkness overcame again.

- "Damn! I forgot I only use those in case of emergency, so I mustn't have bothered changing the batteries... and I even remember why... they weighted too much on the frames. Smart move, Dib. "

So this was it. The stinkball's eye-fixing device made the lights. He felt relief, a second time.

- "Come on, work, work you... you can't be totally flat! I never used you! Turn on! Turn on or I'll... "

Woussshhh.

- "THERE! "

All Zim could see, a vague, shadow-like shape of a lean body, projecting red lights in front of him like a miner's hard hat. It was kind of a hellish vision.

Foolish dog-brain. Feeling happy for nothing. Always so self-satisfied with the tiniest thing they manage not to ruin. Pathetic. Ouch!

As Dib came closer, the new light struck him right in the face, much like the others had a short time ago, and he withdrew from it with the haste of a vampire in daylight.

- "Oh! There you are. You look terrible. "

He felt terrible. His brain hurt as much as if some ravenous deadly meat-eater virus was trying to shred it from the inside, devouring it meticulously, bit by bit. And it might have been the case. Who knew. Dib sat by the alien's side, wondering idly why the latter was still trying to bury himself under the covers, soiling the dark blue cloth with his half-closed wounds.

I wonder if Irken's blood can be removed with washing powder or if I'll have to buy new sheets. Shut up, Membrane! Your indifference makes me sick. Call it nonchalance if you must, you're becoming no more than a heartless monster. Haha. You, always exagerating. Those sheets were expensive, weren't the? Shut up.

- "I hope you feel better. "

That was as useless as it was silly, wasn't it.

Yes, yes it was. Zim didn't even try to show any sign of response, once again bringing unwanted guilt to the human.

- "I had to cut down the power at the source," he explained apologetically "The computer wouldn't listen to me. His full attention was centered on this very room. This never happened before. I think it's ver mad at you. Gosh, this machine is the worst revanchist ever. I thought giving it a name, and this one in particular would make it calm down. You know I wanted called it "Marvin" at first? But I changed my mind, because I didn't want it to blow itself up and me at the same time in a desperate row of depression. "

He realized he had talked too much and coughed, embarrassed.

- "You don't really care, do you. I'm sorry about Eddie's attitude. He can be such a pain sometimes. "

Pain. You chose the exact wrong word here, moron. Congratulations.

- "I'll give him a piece of my mind later. He wont get away with this one. "

He remained silent for a moment.

- "The lights should be back any time soon. Eddie's got a restart program that automatically takes place after any kind of errors. Until then, I'm staying by your side. "

He isn't so much much as reacting to the sound of my voice. If I hadn't seen him move before, I would have sworn he passed away. Dead meat under my sheets. My, he must be so down, now. I'd lie on the floor and just wait for death to take me I if were in his place. I've got to say something. Something nice.

- "It's okay, Zim. You're here now. I'm here. You're fine. "

Brilliant, Dib. You're bringing new levels of honors to the human race.

His hands wandered blindly to where the Irken was lying, finding the bulge huddled under the covers, patting it aimlessly. Feeling unusually lost and oppressed, impatient to brake the heavy silence that had settled itself between them, he blurted the one and only thing one should never had in a such a extreme situation. But then again, Dib was kind of dumb with that sort of thnigs. Or worse, he just couldn't bring himself to care enough.

- "Everything is all right, now. You are home. "


The Irken held his little arms out.

- "Pick Zim up, human-slave! "

Still said in the same strict, deliberate tone, with a slight pout on his little green face. And Dib would laugh, and pick him up on his slender shoulders. He had gotten taller. So much taller than Zim ever would. Taller and thinner than all his classmates, who stubbornly refused to acknowledge his very existence. Just like daddy was, and just like he did.

As stubborn as ever, Zim's height didn't bother changing with the years. Time flew, and Zim looked more and more like a tiny little fussy baby to Dib. A dangerous, murder-attempting baby. Cute, nevertheless.

- "So, how does it feel to be tall, Zim? "

He would pretend to be offended by the ever-asked question, and would spit out some rambling insults about the dirty-stinky rock of a planet, and the sub-evolved life forms that were crawling miserably among its surface. But inside, he was glad. Travelling around on the stink-beast shoulders, looking down on people with disdain -and curiosity- from his now respectable size. This situation made him feel invincible, and so very proud. Of himself, of course.

- "Zim doesn't need you, human. "

The Irken would blurt now and then , and Dib would smile.

- "Of course you don't. I know it well. "

Ad he would gather the little alien in his arms, and pet him like a cat for a while. Zim let him. Such a treatment shocked the alien at first, but he rapidly realized it couldn't be helped. After all, he was ZIM, the great Irken invader, future ruler of the Earth, not some sort of smelly germ-covered furball! No matter how many times he screamed, kicked, squirmed or threatened the young human, Dib would always come back for more, and in the end, he had to give up. Plus, being carried away in a backpack, or a picnic basket -where he was free to pick any lunch account he wanted- wasn't that bad.

At night, they used to sit on Dib's roof, the teenager hugging "his" alien like a teddy bear. Dib would ask so many questions about the Universe, and Zim would made up for what he didn't know. Sometimes, he would just blatantly lie, or make things up. He knew quite a bit to be honest, but the Universe was LARGE, and the human's interrogations infinite, his questions racking Zim's nerves, making him lose his temper over and over.

Worst of all, Dib discovered he liked the small alien's outbursts. Not in a masochistic way, only... whatever Zim said, it was funny. So. Freaking. Funny. The words. The tone. The voice. All so very hilarious. Even if all he could talk about most of the time was conquest, mass murder, destruction, enslaving, and of course, congratulating himself for being so great and so inventive.

It seemed to be true, after all, you COULD like someone without liking what they did. As for him, no matter what he did, no matter what he said, he knew Zim would never enjoy his company, and it was for the better. Then again, the small alien had made to himself a vow of hating anything that wasn't Tallest related, that somewhat relieved him. 'I'm out of their world', he thought, 'but that doesn't mean I can't have a look.' To Dib, it had become the greatest show ever.

- "Tell me about this planet. What you think, about your life down here. About life, on Earth. "

Zim clicked his tongue proudly.

- "Ah-AH! My deeds and taste amaze you! "

- "Yes, Zim. They totally amaze me. Come on, tell me again. "

He braced his long legs to his chest, chin on knees, and listened religiously.

- "You make me laugh, Zim. "

He had told him, one day. He and the little alien were sitting under a big tree in the Park, which had quickly became their favorite place to lie down and do nothing. As expected from Zim, he took the innocent remark rather badly.

- "WHAT? YOU DARE MAKING FUN OF THE GREAT ZIM? "

- "I'm not making fun of you. It's just that you make me laugh. When you get angry, and you scream around. When you babble on how horrible everything is down here. The words you use. It's hilarious. When you giggle manically while plotting evil things in this green head of yours. It's funny to look at. To me, at least. "

Zim bared his pink teeth.

- "It won't always be funny, dib-stink. "

He assured in a menacing tone. Dib just smiled.

- "I know. But I won't be there to witness it, so all I want to do is laugh for now. The tragedy can wait. "

'Or so I wish' he added bitterly in his mind. There were moments like those, when he couldn't help but wonder how far this game could go.

Zim was so keen to trust whatever he was told. When would he realize he had been lied to, and how he would react? Would his response be unbearably violent? Bloody? Explosive? If he was lucky enough for his plan to work just he -hadn't...- expected it to, he wouldn't be there to face the consequences of his lies. But other times, he had the perfect opposite impression, the impression that Zim KNEW that all of this was nothing more than a farce, but still would play along.

Or maybe Dib was the one being fooled, maybe the Irken only pretended to believe him so as not to have him around to interfere with his plans. But what scheme could he hatch in secret, as they remained together most of the time? Zim was taking care of him, much to his own disgust, watching him, surveying him, making sure nothing bad happened. Or maybe, it was something else. Maybe he was not the only one to be so fed up. Maybe the alien was as tired and discouraged as he was, but his stupid Irken's pride wouldn't allow it to show. No way to know anything, but...

The current situation was the most restful he ever had, no need to run, to hide, to fight, or risk his life. He didn't have much left to worry about, and someone to entertain him, although reluctantly. For now, It just had to be enough.


A/N: A mute Zim is the ultimate nightmare of any IZ fan. That's why I thought it would be funny to try! What do you think? Ah, oh, yes... chapters may increase, but there won't be any sex in this story. Sorry.

References:

-The Hitchiker's guide to the galaxy

-Monty Python's sketche: "The Dead Parrot"

-Little Shop Of Horrors 's "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space"

- Portal