Significant Other
An Entirely Pointless Story About Dib
by Sarah Tilson

Within the recesses of Dib’s house, the phone rang.
And rang. And rang. Finally, after the caller had waited five rings and not hung up yet, the house’s lone occupant picked up the receiver.
“What?” Gaz snapped, her customary method of greeting anyone who interrupted her life via telephone.
“Hi, Gaz, is Dib there?” answered the cheerful voice of Zana, Dib’s girlfriend of two weeks. Gaz despised her, even above her usual misanthropy. Zana had two strikes against her: being associated with Dib and being so damned chipper all the time.
“No. He’s out,” she hissed.
“He said he’d be home...where is he?”
Fifteen minutes earlier, Gaz had caught Dib clambering out of his window, dressed in that ridiculous ninja-espionage outfit and packing more gadgets than James Bond. There was only one thing her brother could be doing dressed like that, and it wasn’t running out for last minute flowers.
“He snuck out. To go see Zim.”
“Zim?” came Zana’s surprised reply. “Who’s Zim?”
“His obsession,” Gaz stated, and closed the conversation by slamming down the receiver and stalking away to her room for a few precious hours of uninterrupted gaming.

Dib returned at four in the morning, somewhat singed and smelling distinctly of sulfur but looking strangely triumphant. He was carrying a broken piece of magenta equipment that periodically emitted a shower of blue sparks and beeped feebly. Gaz found him checking to make sure the back door was locked as tight as possible.
“What is that?” Gaz asked, pointing at the battered object that Dib was cradling as if it might break if looked at too hard.
“It’s a very” Dib looked the thing in his arms, and gave up. “...item. I’m going to analyze it, find out what it’s made of. It’s most definitely Not Of This Earth. I was going to leave him a challenge letter, but I can’t find it...must have left it in my other coat.”
“And this would accomplish exactly what? Besides pissing off your girlfriend, I mean.”
“Don’t you see -- it will increase my knowledge of Zim’s nature, which in turn will...wait, what did you say about my girlfriend? You did tell her that I was suddenly overcome with leprosy and had to be rushed to the hospital, right?”
“But lying is wrong, Big Brother,” Gaz drawled in mock innocence. “And you can’t be ‘suddenly overcome’ with leprosy, you pathetic loser.”
“Gaz!” Dib cried, horrified. “This mission was supposed to be secret! No one must know my plans! You might have jeopardized the survival of the human race!”
“Dib, you stand out like a severed thumb, and you make twice as much noise as usual when you’re trying to sneak around. I don’t think you could be covert if your life depended on it, which it might if you keep bringing me into this. Zim is your creepy fixation, not mine.”
“Zana will understand that the fate of the world is at stake,” Dib declaimed as Gaz marched into her room and slammed the door in his face.

Two days later, Dib waited patiently for Zana at their appointed rendezvous spot in the local ice-cream parlor, sucking on a strawberry milkshake and glancing over his shoulder occasionally. He had taken the liberty of purchasing Zana a sundae as a makeshift apology, but she was thirty minutes late already and it was beginning to melt.
Finally, she arrived. And she did not look happy.
“What’s wrong?” Dib asked, as Zana stomped over to his table and made a point of refusing to sit down.
“Dib -- there’s someone else, isn’t there?” she snapped at him. Dib looked shocked.
“Of course not -- what are you -- ”
“Look, I know you’ve been thinking about someone quite a lot. Let me ask one more time -- is there someone else?”
“No, of course...” the image of Zim rose unbidden into his mind, as it often did. Dib glanced around nervously; a small crowd of gawkers had gathered. “In a manner of speaking...”
“’In a manner of speaking,’ huh? What do you call this?” She tossed a crumpled and highly lint-covered piece of paper on the table. “And this?” On top of the paper she dumped a box of shaky Polaroids. “Every single one of these is of the same person, Dib! Fifty-two pictures of this guy!”
Dib stared dumbly at the pile of unsuccessful attempts to catch Zim unmasked. Picture after picture of Zim, sleeping in class; Zim, lying on the concrete after being tripped; Zim, screaming at small green dog; Zim, poking with a sharp implement at what appeared to be a sewer rat. “Zana, I can explain --”
“Yeah, explain why I found this in the pocket of that coat you left at my house.” She snatched up the piece of paper and read it aloud. “’Zim: Tonight was only the beginning. I won’t let you get away from me. Wherever you go, I’ll be there -- I’ll follow you to the edge of the solar system if that’s where you choose to run! Resistance is futile! My resolve will never waver until nothing stands between us and you are finally MINE!’ That’s pretty passionate. And it’s in your handwriting, Dib. Explain away. I’m dying to hear this.”
“You-you don’t understand!” stammered Dib, who couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Zim is an alien invader posing as a human being -- he goes to my school and he’s a serious threat to the safety of the planet! That’s a challenge note! Really! I was going to leave it in his house a few nights ago -- “
“AHA! So you admit that you were at this ‘Zim’ person’s house that night I called you! And seriously, Dib, you’re going to have to come up with a better lie than that. I mean, really.”
“But you said you believed in aliens!” Dib sputtered, aghast.
“Aliens in UFOs are one thing. Aliens in geography class are quite another. Look, if you’d just stop lying about it and give up on this Zim, I’ll forgive you...”
“I can’t stop now! I’m so close -- within the week I’ll have him for sure --”
Dib had a split second to truly regret that statement before receiving a bowl of slightly melted Rocky Road with whipped cream and fudge directly in his face.
“And you’re never getting your trenchcoat back either, you two-timing punk!” Zana yelled as she stormed out the door, slamming behind her so hard she almost knocked the cheery bell off the door frame.
Dib glared at the now quite substantial congregation of gawkers, snatched up his milkshake, and exited with as much dignity as it is possible to muster with maraschino cherry embedded in one’s hair.

Zim held the telephone receiver a foot away from his head, listening in bemusement to Dib’s furious tirade. When Dib started claiming he would redecorate his bedroom with Zim’s framed internal organs, Zim decided that this was getting a little ridiculous and hung up.
“Yaaayyyyyyyy!” GIR yelled, preemptively celebrating.
“I don’t know what that was all about,” the Irkan remarked to his robot, “but I’m counting it as a success.”