When he saw a small white notebook wrapped up with a leather strap at the bookstore in town, he knew he had to have it. It was the perfect surface to draw the symbol of his secret organization on the front, an eyeball surrounded by a thin circle. He did it with the special black pen he'd bought. It was perfect… Now he just needed a use for the thing.
That use had walked into the classroom that one fateful day, around two weeks later.
Dib marked the date neatly in the upper right hand corner.
March 30th, 2001
This isn't going to be a journal. I'm making it into a log. A log… Of my progress against the extraterrestrials invading planet Earth!
I heard them, months ago, over a signal I tracked into deep space. They were going to invade, they said. And one of them is here, now! In my very classroom!
No one believed me when I stated this truth aloud, however. Like they've ever believed me before.
Mark my words, I'm gonna expose the little rat. The alien scum. I'm naming this book my ZiMLog. I'm sure it'll fill up fast!
Dib shut the book and wrote this title on the cover. Adrenaline from chasing ZiM across town coursed through him, and he reopened the book to continue.
-He's very short. Passes as a kid.
-The alien is quite agile. He ran pretty fast.
-His skin is green for crying out loud!
-Lack of ears and nose. Something he is hiding must be used for these senses.
-Speaks English just fine. May have a translator somewhere.
-His base is pretty well defended. Gotta find weak points.
Dib sighed, shutting the book and tucking it away in a drawer, before contacting the eyeballs about the events. He figured it was going to be a long ride with ZiM, and he was getting on, prepared or not. This logbook was going to be the utmost of professional logbooks, so he could submit it as proof someday. With the little doodles of ZiM that would end up all over the cover... Yes, they'd be astounded by the cold hard facts that would be placed in this book.
Except that sort of… didn't happen. The ZiMlog became... more of a complaint box for the young Dib.
A teenage Dib shut the book and let out a similar sigh after reading that first entry. It was mid-July in 2006, and he was shut up in the dark coolness of his room, avoiding the dry heat outside, the ozone layer ever depleting. Next month he'd be starting junior year, which everyone knew was the hardest year of high school that one could schlep through, with SATs looming in the distance. Not that he cared much about that now, he was reminiscing, at the moment. This past March had been the sixth year anniversary of his meeting of the small green alien… who… well… hadn't been so small by the end of it.
ZiM had departed without a word two years previously, back at the end of eighth grade. Perhaps he wasn't prepared to face the troubles of hi-skool, and simply gave up. Perhaps he'd been called back. Maybe, there'd been danger, or he'd run out of supplies, or…
Dib didn't try too hard to determine a reason. He tried hard to keep his thoughts off the alien, but it drifted into his mind now and again. When ZiM had left... it had been Dib's final victory against the green creature, although a bit of an anticlimactic one. Ah well. Not that it mattered. No one changed their opinions on his state of sanity when ZiM decided to pick up and leave. Everyone had just assumed the alien had moved away.
He figured, July drawing closer to the end, August marking the beginning of skool, he would begin reading an entry a day, these entries that his ten to thirteen year old self had written. None of them were very long. A bit painful, looking back on this messy primary-school handwriting, and the eagerness of his younger self made him smile weakly, as he found himself losing such vigor as the years went by. Dib cracked his knuckles and shut the drawer that he had laid the book inside, turning to his computer. Killing time with videos took his mind off of things. Maybe he'd watch the Mars rover video feed, just… one last time? Mars had managed to auto-pilot itself back to where it belonged eventually, after all.
He brought up the four cameras, the last one had been repaired by ZiM's robot last time it had broken down, and Dib settled back in his chair, pushing his glasses up on his nose. The paleness of his skin showed that this was all he did, a quiet shut in who just observed, never really acted. Not anymore.
A shooting star streaked past one of the cameras. It headed in the general direction of Earth, but Dib doubted it would make any damage even if it did crash land. He didn't think about the fate of mankind too much, anymore. There wasn't anything around to protect it from. If ZiM returned, perhaps… he'd…
No, no. No time for nostalgic thoughts. Back to his daily rounds of checking news and blogs and video uploads. Just the daily grind. Kept him from thinking too much, from observing too closely… like for instance, he had missed an important question he should have been asking himself.
Why was the shooting star strange and wobbling... and why was it purple?
Two years ago...
The cardboard box's contents rattled in the tiny robot's metal hands as he skipped across the dark lab, into the small purple spaceship. Placing the box in the ship with a squeak, he saluted whoever was in the pilot seat, and then zoomed backwards with his rockets, screaming, to get the last of the cargo. ZiM barely noticed GIR's shrieks as he brought their things into the Voot, and he recalled another time he had been packing like this, only to be halted by the disgusting Dib-thing. With fingertips pressed together, ZiM struggled to keep his eyes open, and sniffed wearily. Three years and a few months on Earth had worn him out considerably, and he was growing older, and sicker. Not that the problem couldn't easily be solved, he was headed back to Irk for medicinal treatment. If they were even allowed to give it to him, that is. Well. No good thinking about that at present. There was a message he needed to record…
ZiM stood after recording his message, shaking slightly, and marched pointedly out of the Voot, down, out into the open air. He could smell Earth summer in the wind, it was a few weeks away, and the skool children were growing restless as his and Dib's eighth grade year drew to a close. And their restlessness made him restless as well. He was going to wait it out until skool closed, but his sickness was becoming a bit too much to bear. He'd had to stop and double over, dry heaving, a few times on his way through the house. ZiM plastered his recorded message to one of the walls of the neighboring houses, and began his trek back to the Voot.
GIR was sitting atop the ship when he arrived, squeezing his moose plush. The robot let out a high pitched chuckle before he caught sight of his master, to whom he waved. ZiM walked right into the Voot without a word to his minion, almost hitting his head on the way inside, as he'd not been paying attention. It was these human viruses, they were making him woozy and dazed. Who knew that an Irken could catch the flu, but was immune to all forms of the common cold?
Still, he ducked and coughed again, settling back down in the pilot's seat. He wasn't used to having to duck. Among the sicknesses, the humans had also granted him some inches in height, not too many, he was still the shortest kid in the grade, coming in at a bit shorter than 5 feet, but enough to fit in. Though the high protein foods of the humans—meat and beans—never agreed with him, the "healthy" human nutrients he managed to stomach, over a period of adaptation. Apparently, these green foods were what made the stupid creatures so much taller than himself. He'd evened out at the height he was now, and it made him all the more sure of his superiority over the humans. But that wasn't important at the moment, either.
"GIR!" He called out, his voice a bit grainy. "Get in here! We're going." The SIR unit zipped into the Voot, and the door closed behind him. He gave the Irken a firm salute, with glowing red features, before plopping down on the floor and continuing his business with his moose.
ZiM punched coordinates into the console, and the ship closed up in the back, the ramp retracting inwards. The roof opened, and the cruiser hovered a bit above the glowing building that the Irken had called his humble (well, maybe not so humble) abode for three years. With a couple more buttons pressed, the house deconstructed itself, and ZiM didn't even care to stay and watch it do so, he swerved the ship sharply one hundred and eighty degrees, and ascended upwards. Covered by the shadows of the Earth evening sky, he spied Dib on his roof, taking notes with his telescope, facing the other direction.
The Irken settled his gaze on the human as he flew by silently, but could not cast him a long look. That was his enemy, unaware of his departure. That was good. Time to move onward. ZiM didn't want to set his sights on the disgusting filth ball of Earth ever again, especially not the big headed Dib-monster. The thought of ever returning to this place made him gag and retch, and he covered his mouth with a gloved hand to stop himself from vomiting violently. Perhaps he was being overdramatic. Maybe he was just too sick. But it honestly disgusted him, the idea of after finally getting away, having to go back. Disgusting.
He wouldn't have to worry about that, though. This planet was clearly not in the interests of the Irken Empire. There was always… maybe… he could request a new position back on Irk. Something to really convince the Tallest of his worth. His final chance, he supposed, after the lack of success on this one, after the shocking revelation he'd come to know a year previously.
ZiM didn't turn back his head to watch the retreating blue ball behind him. Nothing to behold there. Nothing worth it there. Nothing to gain. Simply… nothing to return to.