Beneath the toilet lid, down and through a number of subterranean tunnels, and through a laundry chute, ZIM was hard at work hacking away at a formless hunk of metal gears. The soldering iron burned. Sparks flew in all directions.
Zim looked down and noted GIR, who was standing in his dog costume grinning widely. Zim narrowed his eyes. "Yess...GIR?" he asked, putting down the soldering iron.
"Guess what I found?!"
"No GIR, what did you find?"
With a squeak of joy, GIR reached behind his back and pulled out a large, brightly-colored poster. On it, a flamenco dancer posed with a pig's head between his teeth. Zim raised an eyebrow. "And the importance of this is...?" he asked.
"We gotta go to the carnival!" GIR dropped the poster and waved his tiny arms around.
"And why is this?" Zim had picked up the soldering iron again and was preparing to return to his work.
GIR paused and considered the question for a moment. "Um, because...uh...um..." Zim narrowed his eyes. GIR waved his arms some more. "Because..." he began, and trailed off. "Um, because it's got...um...yeah!" GIR grinned. Zim stared at him for a few seconds and then turned back to the task at hand.
"I wanna go to the carnival!"
"The rides are cool!"
"You haven't tried anything 'til you've puked a corn dog while spinning in circles at sixty miles an hour!"
"We love carnivals!"
Zim sat at his desk, momentarily unaware of the chatter circulating around him. He envisioned himself standing at a formidable four feet. He frowned. Five feet was infinitely more formidable. Five foot six. Better. Five foot six with the Almighty Tallest fawning beneath him. Fawning! Zim smiled.
Looking over, Zim was met with the familiar pasty-complected face of his erstwhile opponent. "Dibbb." The two stared at each other for a moment.
"Going to the *carnival*, Zim?" Dib grinned a little too widely. "Every *human* child wants to go to the *carnival*."
"BAH! I laugh at your snivelling CARNIVAL!"
Dib looked confident. "I bet you don't even know what a carnival is."
Zim was silent, and then thought of the poster. "It...involves pigs' heads," he answered, staring at his desk.
Dib scoffed. "Hunh, good guess Zimm...but what will you do when the questions are more complicated than mere *pigs'* heads?!"
"CHILDREN! Return to your seats before your flesh shrivels and you *lose* the faculty of locomotion." Mrs. Bitters narrowed her eyes and glared at the class. The school day had begun.
After a day of stimulating discussion on the food chain (mainly concentrating on the WORMS that would someday DEVOUR your BRAINS), Zim walked home.
"Carnival," he spat. "Some PITIFUL hyuuman ritual." Sidewalk passed under the alien's feet. "But what if it has some more significant meaning?"
Zim imagined the human children dancing merrily around a pole bearing the eviscerated carcasses of various Irken invaders. Little girls in blue dresses threw flower petals. Dib loomed at the front of his vision, cackling maniacally.
"Of course not," Zim scoffed at the vision. "Anyway, why would anyone care if I was there or not?"
A little girl in a blue dress walked toward Zim. She giggled and skipped by.
Zim's eyes bulged. "My innate Invader instinct tells me that it would be wise to investigate this traditional human...er...tradition." Satisfied with that rationale, Zim nodded. "Perhaps it will give me a chance to tap into some hidden human weakness..."
"YAY! We're going to the carnival!" GIR danced around the room merrily. He bumped into walls, fell over, and ran giggling into the kitchen. He hit the trashcan and fell over again.
Zim ignored him. He was staring at the carnival poster. "Look at this, GIR," said Zim. He pointed at a large circular object in back of the flamenco dancing man.
GIR toddled toward Zim and bent over the poster. "Oooh..." GIR squeaked. "Pretty." He grinned and went running into the kitchen again.
"I thought that perhaps I'd seen this mechanism beforrre..." Zim clenched his teeth and hissed. "YYESSS!" he crowed. "THE GARDONIAN SPOOGE CANNON!" Still pointing one finger at the picture, Zim continued, "But why would the humans be in possession of such a diabolical device? The Gardonians used far less to eradicate the population of several planets..." Zim crumpled up the poster and stared straight ahead. "Surely the humans are planning something...it is my duty as an Irken invader to destroy the Cannon before the humans even fathom the destructive capabilities of the SPOOOOOOGE." Zim's red eyes widened. "YESSSS..."
"Whee!" GIR lifted his arms. "We're going to the carnival!"
Balloons floated into the air. Rats picked through the moldy remains of corn dogs. Children lay incapacitated and delirious in front of the TURKISH DISEMBOWELER.
"Cool, the Turkish Disemboweler." Gaz looked up for a moment from the soda in her left hand and then video game in the other. Then her eyes promptly regained their normal squinted appearance and she turned back to her video game.
"I don't understand why Dad had to pick this place for a demonstration," Dib grumbled, walking alongside his sister. "There are so many more things I could be doing with my time tonight."
Gaz said nothing.
"I mean, the Ambiguous Files are on," Dib whined. He sighed and plodded ahead. Straight into the path of a stream of popcorn butter.
"ARGH, MY EYES!" Dib fell to the ground and writhed in agony. "IT'S BUTTERY AND LUKEWARM!"
Laughing maniacally, Zim pressed down on the butter dispenser once again, sending the grease-laden topping splattering off of Dib's back. Gaz looked up from her video game and chuckled. Watching Dib get to his feet, Zim cackled again and then rushed off into the crowd. A small, lime-green dog followed him.
Dib spit butter-flavored condiment onto the ground. "THIS is what I'm trying to tell people!" he shouted. "AN ALIEN! Only an ALIEN would attack someone just trying to have some FUN at the CARNIVAL!" A few old people turned around to stare at Dib, but otherwise, the carnival continued on normally. Gaz stood in the middle of the crowd, taking sips of soda from the side of her mouth while pounding away on her game console.
"ZIM! Don't think you can get away from me!" Dib screamed, and ran after the alien.
The bright colors of people and game booths and kiddie rides flew past, with Zim grinning evilly and beating a hasty path towards the huge metal disk in the distance. "Even Dib cannot thwart my plann...SPOOGE CANNON, you are MINNEEE!"
GIR had given up following Zim, and was several hundred feet behind him, playing roulette and attempting to win a gigantic stuffed monkey.
When faced with the obstacle of the line for the ferris wheel, Zim merely pushed through it, sending little children flying in all directions. Dib followed him, but was not met with the same kind of ease of passage. A large, meaty-looking man blocked Dib's path.
"Um, uh...can I...kind of, get past you?" Dib squeaked, looking up hopefully.
"Hey little buddy, you're gonna have to get in line with the rest of the folks." The man stared down at Dib, his hairy stomach bulging. "Gwan now, kid."
"I have to get through!"
The fat man pushed Dib back, with Dib meanwhile shrieking about catching the alien who was at this moment drawing closer and closer to the ride.
"NOOO, the fate of all HUMANITY depends on my getting onto that ride!"
"Sure it does, kid. Now get in line before I sic your mom on you."
Panting and staring wide-eyed and desperate at the dirt beneath his feet, Dib noticed Gaz's feet. "Gaz?" he asked.
"You gonna puke?"
Dib looked up and met his sister's apathetic gaze.
"Pukin' after the ferris wheel. You are pretty sad." Gaz raised her eyebrows, sighed, and then began to play her video game again.
"How'd you get here so fast?" Dib asked.
Zim was shoved onto the ferris wheel by a particularly vacant-looking carney. He was pushed up against the wire mesh on the window of the car, and afterwards a large woman was pushed to join him. The ride whirred to a start. The woman turned to talk to him. "I just love this thing," she said, and folded her hands in her lap.
Zim narrowed his eyes. "Okay, goodbye," he said, and pushed her out the car door. She shrieked and plummeted to the ground. "Now to investigate the workings of this demonic mechanism," Zim said, and began inspecting the metal interior of the car.
The woman from Zim's car whistled through the air and fell with a crash through the top of a game booth.
"Come ON," pleaded Dib, looking up at the ticket-taker. "I HAVE to get on this RIDE."
"Please get a ticket." The lady working the ferris wheel looked bored. She snorted and then spit onto the grass.
"You just don't understand...this isn't some AMUSEMENT we're talking about, this is the FATE OF THE COSMOS!" Dib fell to his knees and began pounding on the earth.
"COSMOS!" Dib collapsed into a shuddering heap and began to cry.
Gaz walked past her brother and handed a ticket to the ferris wheel lady. The lady opened the gate, and Dib looked up. "You like to see me suffer, don't you?" he asked his sister.
Dib jumped into the first car and immediately saw Zim.
"Obviously the pod vessel was some sort of primative ammunition carrier," Zim noted. "Innnteresting." He pulled a laser from his pocket and sliced a square opening through the ferris wheel car. Walking through it, he found himself perched on one of the machine's rays, the beams of metal attaching the cars to the wheel's center. Zim assumed this was where he would find any available self-destruct mechanisms.
"Don't take another step."
Zim looked up to see Dib standing on a ray, black trenchcoat billowing behind him. "Come for more punishing, human?" Zim asked, and bared his full set of zipper-like teeth in a wide grin.
"I would ask the same of you, Zim." Dib paused, hands outstretched at his sides for balance. "Except with alien in place of human, and with me saying it first."
"And what pitiful weapon do you have to menace me with today, Dib?" Zim asked. "A...WATER BALLOON? Some INFEEERIOR form of TOY made from plastic and some other primative material?"
Dib was silent. His thoughts immediately rushed back through the streets of his town, through the hedges, through the front door and up into his room, where, still in its original packaging, a prototype plasma gun lay.
"Well, pitiful human spore baby?"
"Oh! Uh...yess, Zim." Dib laughed. "I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what I have for you today. Yes, it's a...um..." He reached his hand into his coat and then drew it out as if he were brandishing some kind of gigantic weapon, and was pleased to see Zim flinch and draw back momentarily.
There was a brief silence, and then Zim seemed to recover. "BLAST YOU INFERNAL SCUMBEAST!" He dove at Zim and the two twisted in a mass of flailing arms and legs on the metal ferris wheel's ray, each trying to throw off the other. Dib's head arched back across the ray, and he caught sight of Gaz still staring at the ground and playing video games.
While Dib was staring in awe across the carnival grounds, Zim took the opportunity to pull out a laser gun and point it at his adversary's face. "Imagine, facing an Irken invader without even the most pathetic of weapons," Zim spat, and Dib stared back at him in fear.
"GIR, I must say that this carnival was a success." Zim walked along the street smiling. "The Spooge was dealt with, and I am in the best of spirits. The Tallest will certainly be glad to hear about this mission." Zim sighed and looked up into the air, where balloons drifted in the evening sky. "A success indeed."
GIR smiled. "I got a pig's head," he squeaked. GIR held up the pig's and then took a bite.
Dib pounded on the door of the ferris wheel's engine room. A strange-looking device beeped beside him. "Help!" Dib cried. "Somebody let me out of here! Come on!" The wind blew a popcorn box across the carnival field. Gaz watched the engine room door. The device beeped a few more times, and then began to beep more frequently. "GAZ! SOMEBODY! HEELLLPP!" Dib began shrieking as a red light began to blink on the service of the device.
There was a muted pop from inside the engine room, and the door creaked open. Yellow ooze dripped out. Dib followed it. "Zim," he cursed. A yellow bubble of ooze formed around his mouth. Gaz laughed.