A Grey Rainbow
Zim didn't know what to feel. Was he meant to be elated? Was he meant to feel proud? Although he'd accomplished his goal, it didn't precisely feel good. After all, he had made Ren happy - and Ren was a stinky monkey-child who he, one day, would eventually destroy. What was the point of this again? he thought to himself as he watched the Ren-thing look around in wonder. Making a human happy - BAH! What was I thinking? He sneered inwardly. My single purpose on this dirt-ridden, flea-infested planet is to make them MISERABLE. Making them HAPPY? What on Irk has gotten into the indestructible ZIM?
But he had to admit - the guilt was gone. What was left, though, was an odd sense of confusion. WHY did he feel guilty in the first place? WHY had he gone through the effort of making her HAPPY? WHY had he even BOTHERED, when they were all going to die soon anyway?
"Oh, Zim, this is simply amazing! You're a genius!" she said, laughing and smiling and giving him the biggest grin he ever saw. There were tears in her eyes. "I can't believe you did this! For me! Thank you so much!"
Then she began to cry.
Zim, again, began to feel irritated. Not only with her tears, but with her happiness and his confusion. "If you truly like it so much, then why are you leaking in your eyes?" he snapped. "I haven't water proofed those! Do you want your eyes to drown in their own leakiness?"
But despite his tone, Ren laughed. "They're tears of happiness, Zim!" She grabbed his hands and smiled so serenely at him that Zim wanted to stab his own squiggly-spooch. "I don't care if you're green, or if you have no ears, or a nose, or if you really DO look like an alien! You're the most bestest friend I've ever had and I can't thank you enough!"
Her joy was like radiation. Zim snatched his hands away from her. This wasn't right. He wasn't supposed to make the disgusting humans happy - he was Irken, for Irk's sake! He was part of a race that thrived on the destruction of other races! Why - What had possessed him to make her HAPPY?
It was to get rid of those stupid human emotions of guilt and regret, he thought to himself, glaring. I HATE these worm-babies! SO very MUCH! They've even begun to affect ME and dictate my ACTIONS! Unforgivable! And yes, the feelings of guilt and regret WERE gone. In place of it was utter shame. I am Irken, he told himself. I only have loyalty to the Irken Empire. I shouldn't be wasting my PRECIOUS time on human EMOTIONS any longer!
Then suddenly, he wanted to wipe that smile off her face. He wanted to rip off the goggles, so she wouldn't see colour anymore. He didn't want her smiling at him.
A failure. That's what I am - an utter, despicable FAILURE!
"I'm going now," he told her, his voice tight and harsh. "Enjoy your few hours of colour, pathetic Ren-child. After sundown, they will self-destruct unless you remove them. I haven't exactly fixed that defect in them." He turned around, fully intending to leave her presence. If he didn't leave, he might actually kill her. She was a walking example of his failure.
But WHY? Why wasn't he killing her right NOW? Why was he holding back?
He was frustrated to no end and he knew it must be because of her. Perhaps he really did need to get rid of her. She was becoming a terrible nuisance - perhaps even worse than that stinky Dib-brain.
"Wait, Zim!" she called out, catching up to him. She was puzzled and there was a nervous smile on her face. "Please come with me! I want to see the place again, with you! After all, it's only because of you that I can see colour again - if only temporarily."
"I don't want to spend any more time with the likes of YOU!" Zim sneered at her bitterly. "Just leave the amazing ZIM alone, you horrible dirt-worm. Your happiness is like water on my skin; it burns and it scorches and I feel like disemboweling you." He gave her a deathly glare. "LEAVE MY PRESENCE AND DO NOT SHOW YOURSELF IN FRONT OF ME AGAIN!"
Again tears struck Ren's eyes and not because she was happy. "B-But Zim!" she protested, her tone pleading. "W-Why? I-I thought we were fr-friends! Why are you suddenly ac-acting so mean?"
"I'm ALWAYS like this - have you not realized, you blind girl? Go, shoo, your face disgusts me." And he stalked away darkly, left to ponder on his own strange actions that would, no doubt, puzzle him for the rest of his Irken life.
And he left Ren behind, also confused, unable to determine whether she was happy because she got her colour-sight back (temporarily) or sad because Zim was drifting further and further away from her.
Dib finally found Ren - and when he did, he immediately thought, I'm too late!
The moment he saw her, his eyes zoned in on the weird helmet thing she had on her head, along with the strange goggles over her eyes. It was all too apparent to him too that the wires were practically injected into her skull. "REN!" he screamed, charging at her. For some reason, she'd just been standing behind a dumpster, unmoving. "Do not worry! DIB has come to your rescue!"
Roughly, he tackled her to the ground and pinned her down. Holding a screwdriver he didn't know he had, he began to try and pry off the thing on her head.
"What the? DIB! STOP!"
"Calm down, Ren! I'll get it off you! I swear it on my LIFE!"
"Stop it!" Ren successfully managed to shove Dib off her and hastily stood up. She began tentatively touching the thing on her head, wondering whether or not it was broken. When she realized that she could still see colour, she made an inward sigh of relief. Then she glared at Dib, who had just stood up. "What is WRONG with you?" she screamed at him. "Why are you trying to destroy Zim's present?"
"So it WAS from Zim!" Like Dib had any doubt. "You MUST take it off, Ren! Otherwise, it might turn your brain into curry goo or something! Hurry! There could be a timer on that! Or maybe it's going to suck out your brain cells!" The thought of Zim actually succeeding in his plot churned Dib's stomach. "Come on, Ren. To my lab! We'll get the thing off ya in no time!"
But when he made a move to grab her wrist, she swatted his hand away. "Are you crazy?" she asked furiously. "Zim made something wonderful for me! Dib, you probably won't understand, but Zim is my FRIEND. Do you know what he's given me? He's given me my colour-sight back and I won't let you ruin it!"
Dib stood there, aghast. "WHAT?" This was bizarre. This was really bizarre. Zim? Doing something nice for a filthy human? Ha. "Okay, Ren, well." He really didn't know what to say. This really was quite strange. "Well… obviously then… Zim wants something from you and doing something nice for you is only granting him your favour! Don't fall for it, Ren! It's exactly what he wants!"
Ren glared at him spitefully. "Why are you always like that?" she whispered angrily. "Why are you always trying to separate me and Zim? He's my bestest pal." Then she looked down, eyes watering. "But… I don't think he likes me very much." She sniffed. "Why? Why does he hate me?"
Dib couldn't help but roll his eyes. Not this again. "He's an ALI-"
"Maybe it's because he's done so much for me and I haven't done anything for him?" Ren continued to mumble. "I mean, look at him - he's the only one who's been nice to me and what do I do? I cry constantly and I always complain - I don't do anything for him." She frowned. "No wonder he doesn't really see me as a friend."
Glasses-boy slapped his forehead. "No, Ren, you're making Zim out to be deeper than he really is." He shook his head. "He's nothing but a shallow space-boy bent on human destruction - that's it. He doesn't care about anything else, Ren. He doesn't care about you."
Ren looked up again and glared at Dib. "And you're nothing but a boy playing hero, right? You, too, are quite single-minded. You have no idea how much words can hurt."
Dib gaped. "That's not what I-"
"I'm going," she interrupting, walking passed him. "I need to repay Zim somehow… Because he's my friend." She glanced back at him sharply. "Stop interfering, Dib. Whatever you think, I can take care of my self, and whatever I do, it's my own decision. Stop trying to be my hero… because that place belongs to Zim."
Dib was gawking at her, even when he disappeared from his view. What just happened? Did… Did Ren really like Zim? Oh man, now I know what's happened -
He's brainwashed her.
Zim was facing a crisis.
He had failed his mission - in fact, he'd backtracked so badly that he could possibly never forgive himself.
What was he thinking, making a human happy? That was completely against his mission. If he wanted to make the disgusting dirt-walkers happy, then he might as well stop trying to conquer it. The very thought of abandoning his mission made Zim sneer. What was wrong with him? Was he growing sick?
"MASTAH!" his annoyingly defective robot screamed. "Mastah, why do ya looks so saaaaad?"
"Leave me to mope on the couch, Gir," Zim growled, glaring half-heartedly at the SIR unit. "Don't you have squirrels to chase or something?"
"Master," Computer said. Its voice resounded through the entire room. "Are you, perhaps, having relationship problems?"
"What's with everyone and relationships?" Zim snapped, still continuing to stare at the ceiling. "NO, Computer, I don't have a RELATIONSHIP problem."
"… Is it something to do with Ren?"
"… Yes, kinda."
"Then it's a relationship problem."
With a growl, Zim sat up. Gir was sitting by his feet, drooling openly. "I want to make her MISERABLE!" he confessed angrily. "I want her to rot! I want the entire human population to suffer and become nothing but wailing babies, easy to destroy! I want them all to perish and burn and drown and choke - I want to conquer this pathetic excuse for a planet so that I may DESTROY it! I hate this place! I hate its filthiness and its dirtiness and its obvious lack of hygiene! I loathe the dirt-babies that walk on it! Most importantly though, I ABHOR these EMOTIONS that they have! It is SICKENING!"
There was a silence afterwards, with nothing sounding but the sharp pants of the green alien. Then Gir finally said, "Ooooooooh."
"It seems," Computer started smartly, "that you've been affected by these emotions that you abhor so much, master."
Zim didn't want to admit it so he just growled.
The Computer sighed - if computers COULD sigh, anyway. "Well, what's done is done. You have contracted the virus known as humanity. I suggest you go kill yourself now."
"I will do NO such thing until I am no longer useful to the Irken Empire!" Zim retorted. "Which, by the way, is NEVER!"
"Then what do you want to do?" the Computer asked in an irritated tone. "Are you just going to sit there and mope, just because you're human-infected, or are you actually going to DO something relatively productive… like take over the world?"
Zim blinked. "Yes…" he mumbled quietly to himself. "YES!" He jumped up. "I've been so preoccupied by these emotions and the Ren-brat that I've neglected my sole duty! It doesn't matter if I've contracted a hideous virus or that I've done a horrible backtrack - I will conquer this ball of filthy dirt. Nothing else matters! Thinking otherwise is not the way of a true Irken Invader!" He nodded to himself. "Ah… I'm such a genius. I can pull myself out of potential depression by just a single whim. Aren't I AMAZING?"
The Computer, if it could, would have rolled its eyes. "Yes, master," it said dryly. "You are amazing."
"Yes, yes, I know - you didn't need to tell me that, Computer." He turned to Gir. "GIR! Go do something more destructive than chew your own arm!" he demanded. "Go into the neighbourhood and terrorize the filthy human neighbours by showing them your expired-by-six-months taco!"
It seemed that was an order Gir would gladly follow. He saluted. "Yes, my mastah!" Then he ran out of the house, laughing hysterically, as per usual.
"Computer!" he demanded. "Send me down to my labs! I'm going to devise another devious plan that even DIB cannot stop!"
"That's what you always say…" the Computer grumbled.
But Zim only grinned to himself. He was going to get right back on track - he was Zim, after all, and if Zim couldn't do it, then no one else could.
Zim strutted around the Skool with a suspiciously large back pack. Knowingly, from past experiences, the Skool children warily backed away whenever he approached them, some even screaming and flailing their arms around when Zim even glanced at them. Ah, the alien thought with satisfaction. To strike fear within the worm-babies even when I haven't done anything yet! Such splendor! He'd forgotten what it was like to terrorize these, these – these things – although it may be a little hard to believe. He couldn't believe he'd focused his attention on a single human for so long without doing anything relatively destructive. But that's in the past now, Zim, in the PAST! he growled inwardly. NOTHING can stop you any longer!
"ZIM!" cried a voice the alien wasn't surprised to hear. "What kind of diabolical plan do you have up your sleeve NOW, space-boy?"
"Well, Dib, if you really want to know, I'll show you!" His arch nemesis stood in the middle of the hallway across from him, taking a defencive stance. Zim smirked and slowly reached behind him towards his backpack. The remaining students scurried away in fear like ants. Then quickly, Zim pulled out his newly invented weapon: the awesomely-invincible-sharp-shooting-laser-firing-missile-launching bazooka which, upon impact, could easily destroy an entire city. A dozen missiles locked onto Dib's tiny body and lasers and crossbows aimed at the poor, little earthen boy. "ZIM IS BACK!" the alien screamed in triumph.
Dib's eyes, if they could, would've popped right out of their sockets.
"I've had enough of these games, Dib!" Zim sneered. "I'm tired of going easy on you! Today, Dib, is the day you DIE!"
"No, Zim, wait!" Dib desperately pleaded, waving his hands in front of him as if it'd stop the missiles from glaring directly at him. "T-Think this over! You'll be blast away too, due to the recoil!"
"Ha! Pitiful human! That's why I have THIS!" Suddenly, Zim pressed a button on his wristwatch. Immediately, his body was enveloped by a pink, relatively skin-tight bubble. "It absorbs any shock wave, Dib! Muhahahahaha!" Zim smiled wickedly, his finger already on the trigger of his massive weapon. "Prepare to be annihilated! It REALLY hasn't been nice knowing you."
Dib gaped – he was serious. He was going to blow him into smithereens – seriously. "Z-Zim, wait, don't do-"
Zim grinned, showing off razor sharp, shark-like teeth. "Oh, but I already did." But before he could even press the trigger, a shout was heard.
Momentarily distracted, Zim turned to see Ren running towards him, tears in her eyes. Immediately, Zim's eyes narrowed as he redirected his missiles towards her. "Don't come any closer, you pitiful girl!" he demanded.
But Ren seemed oblivious to his massive weapons and to his threat as she embraced him, tears running down her eyes. "Please, Zim, you have to hear me out! You can play with Dib later, okay? Just please, listen to me!" she pleaded, still crying.
Zim was puzzled – why did she think that they were playing a game? Did his weapons LOOK fake? Apparently, she really was rather blind.
Ren sniffed and stepped back. Taking a deep breath, she said, "I'm leaving."
Zim cocked an eyebrow. "Err, well, good," he said, waving a hand at her dismissively. He turned his attention back to Dib and once more, the missiles and crossbows were locked onto him. "Go away now," he demanded. "I'm busy."
"No, as in, I'm leaving leaving Zim!" Ren pushed. "I'm leaving the Skool. My family's moving again and I don't think we'll be coming back." She wiped away her tears and smiled at him ruefully. "I'm really, really sorry, Zim. I wish I could've done so much more for you, since you've done so much for me."
"Leaving… and never coming back?" Zim asked slowly. He turned to look at her and was confused – why was he neither happy nor sad about this little tidbit of news? Shouldn't he be glad that she'd finally be out of his hair? Metaphorically speaking?
Ren nodded slowly. "Zim, I-"
"Oh my Gosh!" Zita, one of the Skool children who randomly walked by to witness the scene. "Ren's hair! It ain't rainbow anymore!"
Indeed, it wasn't. Instead, Ren had died it a smooth grey. Zim thought it matched her eyes perfectly. "Yeah, about that," Ren said, scratching the back of her head. "I didn't tell you before, Zim, but I have three brothers, and they thought it would be funny if they put in rainbow die in my shampoo. Being colour-blind, I didn't notice until, well, you gave me that goggle-helmet thing." She smiled at the alien. "Another thing to thank you for – I was treated like an outcast not because of my eyes, but because of my hair and what it represented, right?"
Zim was utterly confused and nodded dumbly. "Y-Yeah…" he said hesitantly. "THAT'S what it was. What, you think I didn't know that?"
Ren, spotting his puzzlement, could only shake her head and smile fondly. "Anyway, Zim, I'd like to thank you. For being the only one who wanted to be my friend despite all these misunderstandings. I wanted to thank you because, for a brief moment, you made me feel alive again. I'm sorry that nothing I've done made you smile. I'm sorry I couldn't be a better friend, like you were to me. Here." She slipped something into Zim's hands and gave him a brief kiss on his cheek. "Thank you… for everything, Zim."
Then she ran away, blushing furiously and crying, wondering why it was so hard to resist going back and hugging the alien boy.
Zim watched, mouth agape and eyes wide, as she disappeared around a corner and never returned. He glanced down at his hand and at the glass prism she'd given him. As if he was hypnotized, he lifted up the prism, closer to one of the Skool ceiling lights, and was amazed to find all the colours of the rainbow shining within the solid piece of glass.
And all he could do was stare, mystified.
Then something tackled him to the ground. "Ha! Take that, Zim! Don't let your guard down for even one moment!" Dib sneered at him, attempting to grab hold of Zim's weapon. "Gimme, gimme, gimme! You've already failed anyway, space boy! Whatever plans you had for Ren, they're useless now! She's gone! Ha! You've failed once again, ZIM!"
Furiously, Zim kicked Dib off. While Dib was still on the ground, the alien stomped his foot down on Dib's chest, choking him. Zim them aimed all his weapons, the missiles, crossbows, lasers and multiple sharp objects, directly at Dib's gigantic head. "Enough, Dib!" he growled, glaring down at him darkly. "Enough."
But why couldn't he pull the trigger? He was so willing before – he was able to pull it before. But then that Ren-girl came and gave him this stupid piece of glass. Why couldn't he do it now?
Zim inwardly sighed. The human dirt-bags are stupid and ignorant – that's a fact. But maybe… even then… they aren't that bad.
With a convincing snarl, Zim retracted his weapons and placed it back into his bag. "Listen up, Dib-stink," he snapped, stomping on his chest for emphasis. He had satisfaction in listening to the human boy gasp out for air. "I'll kill you one day – I'll conquer this pathetic excuse for a planet before you can even blink. But… for now…" Zim stepped back and turned away. "… For now, I'm tired of seeing your face, Dib-stink."
Dib blinked as Zim stalked away. What had just happened? Zim was ready to kill him – and blow up the entire Skool while he was at it – but he didn't. Dib knew he could've done it; that was clear in his mad, raging eyes. But then why did he stop?
Dib shivered unintentionally. He was suddenly reminded of the fact that Zim, indeed, was an alien, with far superior technology and skills than he. Although Zim was naïve and slightly foolish, Dib couldn't avoid the fact that he was an alien – completely capable of destroying his very world. He had multiple chances to kill him – yet, for some reason, the green boy just chose not to.
The human boy released an aggravated sigh and lay flat on his back. Perhaps Zim really is a sadistic bastard playing a game.
"HEY MASTAHHH!" Gir cried, glomping the green alien. "How was yer day, mastah ZIIIIIM?"
Zim, oddly enough, let the robot clutch onto his head. He didn't answer as he simply dropped his large backpack and sat on his sofa, looking dazed.
The Computer, as expected, spoke up. "What's the matter, master? Tough day?"
"Not really," Zim grumbled. He took out the prism from his pocket and held it against the light, watching the colours swirling inside the glass. "Humans are confusing, aren't they?"
"YESH," Gir replied, sitting next to him and chewing peanut butter. "YESH!"
"What makes you ask that, master?" the Computer asked.
"Nothin'," Zim replied absently. There was a long silence and then, Zim said, "Who am I?"
Even Gir seemed surprised at the question. The Computer answered, "You're Zim, master."
"Invader Zim," the alien corrected with a slightly sharp tone. "And why am I here on this dirt-ridden planet?"
"To… conquer… it?" the Computer hesitantly said, wondering whether or not these were trick questions.
"That's right," Zim nodded. "That's completely right. And that's what I, Invader Zim, will do – I'll conquer earth and befall misery upon its inhabitants, so that it'll be ready when the Armada comes. But…" He looked at the rainbow colours in the prism once more before dropping his arm and closing his eyes, sighing peacefully. "There's no harm in me… waiting – no, playing with them, right, Computer? I'll tease them humans, toy with them, because whenever I want, I can conquer it."
Gir glanced at his master blankly. "Huwwaaa?"
Computer seemed just as confused as Gir was. "Um, yeah, sure you can, master."
Zim grinned and opened his eyes. No one could read them. "Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll still dominate this world, but I'll do so in my own time. What's the rush, eh?" He tossed the piece of glass to the side, onto one of the tables. Humans, he thought, no – not all of them – but some… they deserve to live a bit more… right?
And so he did just that. He fought with Dib, harming him but not killing him, and pretended like he was taking over the world. He found this amusing, how everything went back to normal – but it was only skin deep. Zim never really tried – he, instead, had fun with it, teasing Dib and enjoying how that with each and every day that passed, the boy would grow more paranoid, lose a little bit more hair (oh, how that was amusing). It was like a game to him – a terribly fun, dangerous game. After all, even when he did have fun, some things also tended to blow up, some humans were disemboweled and a couple of pet stores would catch on fire with the animals and people still in it. Although, it wasn't as if Zim didn't like that – in fact, he found that if he did do these things, it'd only excite him more.
So he didn't try to conquer the world – not yet. Instead, he made it his everyday duty to torment the human called Dib, toying with him senselessly. Oh, the time would come when the games would have to stop, he knew.
But, for now, he'd simply let them live, to let them see the colours of blue, green, yellow, orange and white. Because, before long, their world will become nothing but smokes of grey, black and flaming red.