THE WHITE FLAG
At the front of the classroom, Ms. Bitters was discussing the constant expansion of the sun. She explained to her pupils that in just a few billion years, the sun would reach a size large enough to swallow the Earth, consuming it in violent, fiery doom. Near the class's sole window, at the end of the first row of desks, a young boy named Dib ignored her. His black hair was done up on his head in an odd style that seemed to defy all the major laws of gravity. Enormous glasses covered much of his pallid face, and his amber eyes were trained on Zim, the student sitting at the other end of his row, as they often were. This student, Dib knew, was no student at all, but an alien bent on global domination and complete enslavement of the human race. Dib's evaluation of this student's character was rejected by all his classmates--in fact, it was rejected by everyone around him (except possibly his younger sister Gaz, whom he suspected could really care less either way). Now, admittedly, Dib had 'cried wolf' a few times in his life, and he had also devoted his entire existence to the research of all things paranormal and supernatural, but he knew the difference between fantasy and reality. And he had no doubts in his mind that this student was not of Earth's soil. Dib had thought Zim's physical attributes made it obvious--while equipped with somewhat normal blue-violet contacts and a retro pompadour, Zim still had flagrantly verdant skin and no ears of which to speak. Claiming a skin condition as the cause of such ailments did not fool Dib in the slightest, though it satisfied everyone else.
Dib had focused all his energy in recent times on the capture of Zim, though as yet all efforts had been in vain. But, in his heart, he could not say that this bothered him terribly. Zim's presence gave Dib's life new meaning, much as he would never admit it. He knew for certainty that there was sentient life elsewhere in the expanses of space. His constant listening, searching, reading, and hoping was not merely a squandering of time. And what he cared about, really, almost as much as knowing that a threat to Earth's safety was being dissected on an autopsy table, was showing everyone the truth he had found. He wanted everyone to realize that he wasn't crazy, that he was right, and he didn't understand why this was so hard to prove, given Zim's arrival. Dib was so lost in his thoughts of frustration that he did not notice when the skool bell rang and the mad rush for the exit began. His classmates herded past him, shouting and talking as they dashed down the skool's front steps. He was jarred from his musings by a hiss from his teacher, who was suddenly upon him, staring at him demonically. Moved, Dib quickly gathered his things and was out the door before she could even speak. Gaz was waiting for him, her expression even more aggravated than normal. He offered her a shrug of apology, to which she responded by gesturing angrily towards the door. Dib cast his gaze about for Zim as the two walked home, but Zim had left quickly, and was nearly at his own house by then. Muttering under his breath, Dib supposed that it was just as well, for today.
Actually, Zim was in a bit of an inspiration slump. While he had not lost any of his ambition towards his goal of human enslavement, he was not entirely certain as to how to go about it. At the same time, he was wondering if Earth had any attributes that were not potentially fatal to his person. This annoyance was compounded by GIR's discouraging incompetence and Dib's constant, futile attempts at Zim's capture. How wonderful it would be when this planet was in the grasp of the Irken Empire. Everyone would realize that Dib had been right all along, but it would be too late, and that would make victory all the sweeter. Zim cackled to himself at the thought as he walked into his front yard, where GIR stood, outfitted in his canine disguise. He was next to a tree, staring up into the branches intently, his eyes wide.
"Dare I ask what you're looking at?" Zim half closed one eye.
"I saw a squirrel," GIR answered promptly, in his twitchy, childish voice. "We're playing hide and seek."
"I see," Zim said slowly. "Well, I'll be down in the lab if you need me..."
GIR did not even look at him.
Swallowing frustration, Zim strode to his toilet. He climbed in with dignity and flushed. His small body was pushed down a translucent tube that was barely wide enough to hold him. It deposited him on a cool, metal floor, in front of a vast array of complex and mildly disturbing machinery. He shed his human disguise as he approached one of many consoles. He was not certain as to what he wanted to do, and so he sat, his fingers tapping against the keys lightly. No ideas presented themselves. He stared at the blank, offline screen, and his mind wandered, and after a while of this mental roaming, he began to feel quite tired. Within the next minutes he was asleep, his fingers still on the keys.
Zim dreamed of the successful domination of Earth. He dreamed of Dib, screaming as he and his fellow humans were made to bow as a conquered people. That was a pleasant image. He giggled maniacally in his sleep as the dream continued to play in his mind. He saw images of himself sending the last transmissions to the Almighty Tallest, and as his brain lingered on these, his fingers unknowingly began to race across the console in front of him. His dream continued as he pressed all the right keys, and in moments, the uplink with his Tallest had been made. As their ship received and accepted the transmission, Zim continued to dream.
Red and Purple were at a loss, at first. Zim was quite obviously asleep, and muttering something about successful world conquest.
"This is one of those times when I wish we could just send an electroshock down there or something," Purple mused.
"Should we cut it off or wait until he wakes up?" Red said. As if on cue, Zim sputtered a bit, awaking before Purple could respond.
"Grrg...just a dream," he muttered to himself, before looking about himself and noticing his present situation. "Oh--my Tallest!"
"Zim," Purple said heavily, "Watching this continue is getting kind of pathetic, so I think you should probably be aware of something..."
"What is it?" Zim asked, bewildered.
"Do you really think you're on a real mission?" Red said. He was feeling blunt today.
"Your powers of subtlety are astonishing," Purple muttered. "Look, Zim... to be frank, we didn't really expect you to find a planet at all."
"We just wanted to get rid of you," Red shrugged.
Zim gaped, his mind clearly unwilling to comprehend.
"He's trash," Red said. "I mean, literally. He's got loose change in his head. Kind of surprising that he works at all, really."
Crushed, Zim did not speak.
"You're just not Invader material, Zim," Purple said, with just the barest trace of apology.
"Or Irken material, either," Red added, causing Purple sigh a bit. "What?"
"I'm going to stop this now," Purple said. He was having trouble stomaching the sight of Zim's pitiful face.
"Wait--" Zim said, his voice cracking. "What do I do?"
"Whatever you want," Purple shrugged. "Just don't come back to Irk."
And the transmission line was severed.
Zim did not move or speak or think or breathe for several minutes. When he realized that death would result if he continued on this pattern, he exhaled. His brain, ever rationalizing, toyed with the idea that perhaps he was merely being put under a test and that the Tallest had not meant any of what they said. He was about ready to accept this when GIR wandered by, singing moronically at the top of his lungs. Zim pondered dismantling GIR for just a moment before discarding it. As sad as it was, GIR was all he had left, right now.
Zim left the lab, feeling numb. He was not quite aware of himself as he stepped onto his porch, still sans his disguise. He sat down, resting his head in his hands. It did not surprise him when Dib tumbled out from behind a lawn gnome, binoculars in hand.
"Zim?!" he cried in shock. "What are you doing?"
Zim did not look up.
Dib stared for a few moments, flustered. "But..."
"I know," he said. "I don't care. Take photos."
"Well, I didn't bring my camera this time..." Dib trailed off, his enthusiasm draining. He had never felt so disarmed. "Why don't you care?"
"I just don't," Zim answered dully, his antenna drooping over in front of his wide, red eyes.
"You know that if anyone else sees you like this they'll probably attack you, right?" Dib frowned. He wondered briefly if this was some kind of act or trap. But it was difficult to ignore the deafeating aura of despair surrounding Zim.
"Has to happen sometime," he mumbled. Dib sat beside Zim, his mind swirling. He was prepared, he thought, for every event except this. Complete and utter surrender was something he had not readied himself for. A large part of him was still excited--it wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and use Zim, even though he was now seemingly innocuous, to prove his theories correct. It would be so easy.
Too easy, he realized. And not only that, but he liked the idea of acting as the hero for the human race, doing all he could to stop an impending alien invasion. But since if it wasn't happening, then his prosecution of Zim would only serve to villify himself, even if it would make everyone understand. So in the end it was a question of conscience. He cursed inwardly, agonizing.
"What am I supposed to do now?" he said aloud, his voice thin and quiet. Zim looked at him meaningfully, and then back out towards the horizon, where the sun was beginning its descent. They sat that way for a long time.
Wasn't that happy? Before everyone jumps on me, let it be known that, first, I hope this never happens. Second, this is only a possible outcome, if Zim ever found out the Truth. Another outcome is that he could get JTHM and go on a mass killing spree, or something equally frightening and drastic. I did not write that outcome because, exciting as it may be, I'm neither fond nor skilled when it comes to the depiction of violence (not that I'm any better at lame melodrama, but you know..). So yes... I go now.